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Out of Morvant, crossing over
T&T-American filmmaker Damian Marcano will premiere his first feature film, God Loves the Fighter, on Friday as part of the T&T Film Festival. The film, a drama about poverty and crime in east Port-of-Spain, is up for two prizes: best narrative feature film and best local feature film. In advance of its premiere it’s being hailed as an excellent showing for an emerging filmmaker. His only other film was a 2011 short set on the north coast of Trinidad called The Little Boy and the Ball. And he’s just begun work on his second feature, A Chance of Rain in Cleveland. But even if you haven’t heard of Marcano or seen his films, it’s very likely you’re familiar with his work. He directed a string of music videos this year for soca superstar Machel Montano, for the hits Fog, Float and Represent (Remix). One version of the last was a short narrative film that featured actors playing their characters from God Loves the Fighter.
Marcano also directed two videos for the local folk-pop group Freetown Collective, who collaborated with Montano on Represent. Freetown frontman Muhammad Muwakil, a spoken-word artist and poet, plays the lead in God Loves the Fighter. The title of the film is taken from a line in one of his poems. Marcano, who’s also directed videos for American hip hop artists, sees music videos as just one aspect of filmmaking. “Most directors start off with some shorter form of content,” he said; he’s willing to try different opportunities to develop his craft and earn a living, including music videos and ads. “The point is just to keep working. My job is no different from your job.”
Coincidentally, his attitude is reflected in changes made in the film festival this year. For the first time there will be a segment on music videos, featuring seven clips, including those for Mungal Patasar & Pantar’s Fallen, I-Sasha’s Tell Me and Gyazette’s Jumbie. The festival will present its music video package at the Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook on September 18 at 5.30 pm. “A number of filmmakers are known for the music videos they’ve done,” said Jonathan Ali, the festival’s editorial director. “Spike Jonze, for example, started off making music videos.” Jonze, who directed videos for Fatboy Slim, Beastie Boys and many others, was nominated for an Academy Award for his direction of the 1999 film Being John Malkovich. Marcano, who was born in Morvant and left Trinidad for the US at the age of 12, experienced the reach of music videos on a recent trip back home. Many people shared stories with him about how the video for Fog affected them. “There’s not one person I’d run into in the entire trip who hadn’t seen that video,” he said.
The hope is that God Loves the Fighter, which was influenced by stories told to Marcano about life in T&T’s crime “hot spots,” eventually has similar impact. Marcano said he’d like to see the movie become a “cult classic film.” God Loves the Fighter will premiere on September 20, at 8.30 pm, at MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain. The filmmaker will take part in a Q&A interview after the screening. For further screenings of God Loves the Fighter, check ttfilmfestival.com or call 621-0709.
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