In the song Wonderful by Lianne La Havas, the speaker reminisces about a "wonderful, wonderful" experience that leaves an "electricity that lingers" although long gone. In retrospect, that's precisely how many of us felt about our experience at the first 12°N61°W Grenadian Film Festival (1261GFF).
I was lucky to experience 1261GFF as both a team member and guest. Working with Founder and Festival Director, Meschida Philip, and her powerhouse team of women, Leslie Ann Caton, Eva Minemar, Mellany Paynter, Nelcol Lindsay, and Khadine J. Francis, was a shot of life and genuinely inspirational. Whether sitting silently at the long production table late into the night and focused on the specific task at hand or dynamically welcoming guests of all ages to the various film events, these women moved with poise and grace that was hard to ignore. But this is also because balance is something they also strived for; making time for 20-minute early morning sea baths (which is a thing in Grenada). Staying true to the opening theme, they were nothing short of electrifying.
The range of guests filling LAVO LANES, Deluxe Cinema Grenville - Ramdhanny's and Movie Palace on opening night and throughout the festival was as impressive as they were impressed with 1261GFF programming. The quality of the films submitted and screened was first class, thought-provoking and entertaining all at once. It was not uncommon to observe many participants stunned into contemplative silence, tears, or impassioned discussion after the screens faded to black.
Those who attended the workshops on Film Production, Crowdfunding, Distribution, Story Development and Script Writing were gratified by the passion of the facilitators and the wealth of information so willingly offered.
My general impression?
As a first time visitor to Grenada, I was impressed by how beautiful Grenada is and the warmth received beyond the 1261GFF team. I think it's safe for me to say that the audiences,
Photo by Wayne Williams
both local and international, were WOW'ed by the strong Grenadian cultural representation throughout the festival weekend. From the "Jab Jab" models on opening night, to the Grenadian actors and filmmakers in attendance, to the food selection by Lavo Lanes, the rum cocktails from the Cannes Brulees team, and the magnificent, uniquely customized awards by Maria Mcclafferty - Art Glass, — everything was locally owned, made and sourced — impressive!
Additionally, the 1261GFF team's overall dedication to the promotion of inclusion, diversity, and black cultural representation through the exhibition of film, art, and creative expression was vital — and right on time.
1261GFF provided the ideal space and energy for local, regional, and international thinkers, educators, and creators to network, inspire, and discuss strategies to support and distribute Caribbean and Black voices in cinema on the global market. I think we all recognized the 1261GFF team's initiative as a catalyst in encouraging local and regional decision-makers to embrace one of the biggest industries in the world. An industry that, as one of the visiting filmmakers fittingly noted during the opening night Q&A, made the United Kingdom over 97 billion pounds in 2017.
Here are few closing lines from Wonderful: "From here there's nothing but horizon/Remember when you put the stars into my eyes." Undeniably, we're all still feeling the electricity of those three days and wholly expect that the vision and mission of the 12°N61°W Film Festival will remain fully charged for years to come. Whether the journey takes us all to the horizon or the stars, the 12°N61°W Grenadian Film Festival has set a precedent that is both bright — and limitless.