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Bahamian filmmaker wins at Trinidad Film Festival

Human trafficking drama captures Best Short Film award
  • Kareem Mortimer at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

ERICA WELLS
Guardian Arts&Culture
erica@nasguard.com

Published: Oct 05, 2013

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Bahamian director Kareem Mortimer’s newest short film, “Passage”, captured the Best Short Film award at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival this week.

“Passage” tells the story of a Haitian woman traveling from The Bahamas to the United States with her younger brother in the hold of a ship.

“I’ve always wanted to do a film about migration and human smuggling to facilitate a much-needed discussion about immigration and immigrant rights,” said Mortimer.

The film features a stellar ensemble cast which includes Bahamian actress Dana Ferguson, newcomer Lorenz Wright and accomplished actor Stephen Tyrone Williams, who has just been cast in Spike Lee’s new feature and will be next seen on Broadway’s “A Raisin In The Sun” with Denzel Washington.

“Passage” beat out more than 50 other short films from 18 countries. The win marks the Trinidad festival’s third nod to Mortimer’s talents. He had previously won both the audience and jury awards for his debut feature film “Children of God” in 2010.

“It's always great to be validated for the work that we do. It's not only me that has won but also the crew and cast that worked for basically free,” Mortimer told Guardian Arts&Culture. “It also means that Bahamian stories are global stories, they not only resonate here but resonate throughout the world.”

“Passage” also made its UK debut in Bristol last month at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Encounters is the the UK's leading competitive short film festival as it is both an Academy Award and BAFTA qualifying festival.

Mortimer’s entry was presented with four additional films from Canada, New Zealand, Kenya and Barbados. These films were a part of the inaugural Commonwealth Shorts program. Commonwealth Shorts is a partnership between Commonwealth Writers, B3 Media and The Commonwealth Broadcasting Association/Worldview.

Commonwealth Shorts is a capacity building scheme to give emerging writers/directors the opportunity to make a film along the theme of relationships. The films are designed to promote debate about a particular issue that is relevant to the film maker’s community.

“I am grateful to the Commonwealth Foundation for their investment and other supporters which include the Ministry of Tourism, Endowment for the Arts, BTC and the Royal Bank of Canada, for allowing this project to be realized,” said Mortimer.

“Passage” is the pre-cursor to the feature “Cargo” that Mortimer is currently developing to be shot next year in The Bahamas or Puerto Rico.

Mortimer feels this latest win provides a significant boost for the spin off feature project.

He said the win coupled with his experience at the TIFF Lab this past September bodes well for his future in filmmaking.

Mortimer was one of 10 global filmmakers along with 10 Canadian filmmakers selected for the talent lab at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Talent lab is an intensive multi-day artistic development program that provides emerging talent with an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the world's best film artists.

 

• “Passage” will next be screened at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

 


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