Interviews: Michelle Serieux, New Caribbean Cinema First Lady
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Michelle Serieux first came to Jamaica as a student ten years ago. Since then she has been working within the film circuit assuming the roles of actress, director and producer among others. Today her passion for her craft has led her to cofound a flagship initiative, New Caribbean Cinema. NCC is a community of young innovative film makers who strategically pool their resources together in such a way that they can effectively produce films without need for external funding.
"It was out of necessity and luckily for us we all have shared dreams, so when you find a group of people coming together with a shared goal and a shared intention it was very necessary because we all love film making….and we are united by our love for cinema," Serieux expressed, adding "We live in a very complex society, its beautiful but there are lots of sinister things about life in the Caribbean, life in Jamaica and there are stories here worthy of being told like anywhere else."
She insighted however, that along with the lack of a Caribbean industry people have also had a very shallow outlook on the potential profitability of cinema. Albeit theses obstacles faced by the film makers she explained that the group's passion outweighs them stating, "The fact of the matter is that where we live there is very little funding for film making …..but if you're serious about your craft you do it, and we know that we are serious about cinema and film making so we decided we are going to do it 'by the hook or the crook'- by any means necessary and so we formed a collective and everyone helps another out so that we can create a body of work that could speak for itself at the end of the day and really inspire people to start where they stand –that is the whole philosophy behind New Caribbean Cinema"
Now NCC has created its own series dubbed 'Ring Di Alarm' to which she likened to the 'Abeng' as the series was intended to be a war cry of a new breed of directors- 'guerilla film makers' as they call themselves. Ring Di Alarm features seven short films including her own 'Missed'.
"Missed is a study on human interaction and expectation," Serieux told Jamaicansmusic.com. It tells the story of a man who comes back to Jamaica with his wife after several years however as the plot unfolds the audience will realize that they have two different expectations of the same space. "It asks a lot of existentialist questions about narcissism and people and relationships and how much we pay attention to things that are in front of us versus being completely self involved and missing all the thing that life is about, the bigger issues," explained the director.
She relayed that it was a very personal film for her, which came out of her questioning some things about death, stating that "it was a preoccupation that was coloring the way I was interacting with life at the time and I needed to deal with that, so I dealt with it through this film."
After what she described to be a "fantastic journey" of trial and error, an experience which was both strengthening & validating as it reaffirm their commitment to what they are doing, seven short films have been successfully created and a London premiere in sight. 2012 is a big year for Jamaica with the celebration of 50 years of Independence paired also with the Jamaican athletes' success in the 2012 London Olympics Games. Riding this wave, Serieux thought it only fitting, in much of an ideological sense, that a Jamaican film also leaves its mark in London. "Here is something that is fresh and honest because we in no shape or form tried to censor the film makers and the stories they wanted to tell and this is what is happening in Jamaica right now, this is what the directors have to say about the country. This is as honest as it gets. So if they want fresh independent authentic Jamaican cinema, it doesn't get more real than this," she expressed enthusiastically.
Ring Di Alarm premieres on Sunday, September 2nd at the British Film Institute SouthBank theatre in London.
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