Bassculture Islands No 7

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Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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bassculture islands issue #7 Editor in Chief Ania Orlowska Creative Direction/ Graphic Design Kerron Riley Film Editor Emiel Martens Managing Editor Lina Komin Advertising & Creative Contribution Marko Depender Project Execution TheOrlowska Creative Talent Agency Special Thanks Caribbean Creativity Caribbean Film Academy Bassculture Foundation Cover Photography: Kerron Riley Model: Marta Zieba


Editor’s Note A bit of drama, artistic ADHD, drawing genies and the beauty of the island Aruba. That’s in a nutshell what we have prepared for you in this issue. Island’s beauty was pictured by our featured photographer Johnathan Baena while illustrator Jowy Maasdaame is giving you a glimpse into her art in this issue only to surprise you with a cover in issue no 8. There is much to look forward to. To top it all up we found out what really happened in the reggae band Punky Donch. We would also like to invite you to a very special 20th anniversary event by our mother organization Bassculture Foundation Amsterdam. As much as we love the Caribbean, we also decided to expand our reach and start to explore tropical islands worldwide. We want to take you all on this journey and we are starting with Australia/Bali based photographer Cait Miers. The next one to come is… Hawaii!

Ania Orlowska 4. basscutlture islands

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bassculture islands The Beach Connoisseur

Artistic A D H D

Grace in Women’s Surfing




Featured Photographer JOHNATH AN BAENA Location: Aruba

Event Groovylish


Jowy Maasdamme




The Perfect Fitness Wear

Bassculture Anniversary

Carribbean Film




This issue’s featured photographer is Johnathan Baena, based in Aruba. Find his photos spread across this issue and let the images speak to reveal his talent… Johnathan is also one of the photographers featured in our special edition of Bassculture Islands ‘Born with summer in my soul’ COMING SOON !


Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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Location: Aruba

Artistic Attention

D ef i c i t D i s o r de r Jermaine C. Wilson creamofwu

‘A Lust For Life’

I like to think that I show a lot vibrancy and raw power amongst other things but as Iggy Pop said: ”A Lust For Life”. My inspiration comes mainly from my childhood and my teenage years. It seems that growing up in the 90’s and the 00’s and being exposed to so many kinds of art whether it be Music Videos, Local Art, Comic books (American and Dutch), Magazine (Skateboard, Music, Design and Tattoo Magazines mainly) and Music just made me feel like art is just a normal part of life. Aruba is like the New York of the Caribbean, the ultimate melting pot, so my art is kind of a melting pot of emotions, energy, desires and experiences.

If I had to name my art I’d name it Sub-conscious Abstract Art. It doesn’t seem like a focused image but just a whole bunch of images Fear, Love, Hate and and ideas compiled into one image. It’s like Art More These are emotions that people ADD or better said like Artistic Attention feel on a daily bases and nothing is more universal than emotions. EvDeficit Disorder (AADD). erybody has or will experience the 8. basscutlture islands

full range of emotions in their lifespan. To me emotions such as love, hate, fear, loneliness, happiness etc. are the most relatable things ever. All art is emotional and gets a certain emotional reaction from the viewer.

I Want You To See... A Bigger Picture I’d like the viewer to experience surge of color and random images that when looked at closely becomes part of a bigger picture. Just like life in a lot ways, things happen that all seem random but when you look back on it, all becomes part of a bigger picture. If the viewer is confused or doesn’t know how to feel about my work that’s a good thing it, art should always be open for interpretation.

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Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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Maasdamme iseejowy

The drawing genie Location: Aruba/NL 16. basscutlture islands

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“I can’t remember not drawing. As a child it was always me and my pencil everywhere. After college, getting my degree in Dutch Law and working for the man, I was like: ‘no man, no! This cannot and will not be my future.’ Office life felt very unnatural to me. I was miserable.’

One day…

One day my sister Jennifer convinced me to go to a portfolio night of Blend Magazine, to showcase my illustrations, if I wanted to pursue drawing I needed to know if there was a future for me in it so I went. I was super nervous, got lots of critique some bad, some good but at the end of the night I won the Talent of The Night Award and got my first commissioned assignment. Things just started rolling from then on…

I love…

I love that my drawings make people feel a certain way. They are a conversation starter which works very well for me as I’m a bit of an introvert. My illustrations have been called ‘disturbing’, or ‘not for the faint-hearted’, and yes, they’re not a standard ‘pretty’ or’ flowery’, but to me there is as much beauty in darkness as there is in light, so to me they’re beautiful. And I have 18. basscutlture islands

to admit, sometimes I do take a piss at society’s standards of beauty and perfection but I don’t think about that beforehand, the illustrations just turn out that way. What it comes down to is that I just draw what I find interesting and beautiful and I use a certain composition to enhance this. I can’t say where my use of composition comes from (my drawing genie? who knows!) because it comes so natural to me, I don’t think about it. But when it comes to beauty Edgar Allen Poe says it best:

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

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I was born in the Netherlands and moved to Aruba when I was 12 years old. Aruba has definitely influenced the way I live. I experienced it as a very small island where people love traditions and love sameness. Aruba awakened my rebellion spirit, she awakened my connection with nature, reconnected me with the language of my family Papiamento and I have met two of my soulmates there. Aruba has been amazing to me and still is.

It’s weird to describe Aruba in 3 words, as Aruba for me is very much about family; my soulmates live there (my best friend Francie and my mom). On the other hand Aruba feels very nostalgic; it’s where I spent my teenage years. So I still have this out of place romantic teenage love affair with the island; sinta boa palo (sitting under trees,) barefoot all the time, sunkissed, rosy cheeks… My three words have to be the fol lowing sentence: Áwo bo sa ( now you know) You really have to have lived there to know how Aruba feels like, kin da like a secret society…

In 3 words…

The cover for issue no 8 of Bassculture Islands Magazine.

I’m very excited to collaborate with photographer Kerron Riley for the upcoming cover. We are still in the early stages of the collab so for now it’s hard to say what can be expected. But I do have a distinctive style and yes I will add my own kind of strangeness. 20. basscutlture islands

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We all need this Out of place Romantic Teenage Love affair with the island

Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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Location: Australia/Bali

grace in

women’s surfing


Caitlin is an Australian based fashion lifestyle photographer. Her priority and biggest passion is women’s surfing and their lifestyle. Fashion is a big part of surfing as well so she loves to make the combination. She spends summers in Australia and winters in Bali, which feels very dreamy to live this lifestyle. In Bali things are slower and not as convenient as back in Australia which can be a bit frus24. basscutlture islands

caitmiersphotography trating at times. She works and runs her own business “my brain never switches off, I’m always thinking about the next project, but I love every minute of it!” – says Cait. In December 2014 she released a photography book called ‘Washed Elegance’. “It’s basically a reflection of me and what I stand for, and it’s a way of sharing the movement that’s happening in women’s surfing right

now’ – explains Cait. It’s a book for any woman, whether they surf or not, who are inspired to be their true self. The book is all about sharing the femininity and grace in women’s surfing. Cait is also one of the photographers featured in our special edition of Bassculture Islands ‘Born with summer in my soul’ – COMING SOON !

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Location: Spain

Recommended Event

Groovylish Dance workshops Contests Parties Beach 32. basscutlture islands

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PARTY 34. basscutlture islands

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Location: Curacao

The Beach connoisseur Gaby Lieuw sandandstilettos

It seems to be one of the best jobs on the planet. Tell us a bit about what you do?

I definitely can’t complain about my job! Sand and Stilettos is a beach life platform which is made up of different elements. I create and take travelers on customized trips on the island of Curacao, tailor-made entirely around their preferences. I started The Island Collective, a travel concept aimed at digital nomads who enjoy exploring new, inspiring destinations in addition to being interested in exchanging knowledge with each other and local entrepreneurs. This summer I also added STRand and Stilettos, a blog about beach life and coastal culture in the Netherlands. How did you get to the point of being able to live an island life and make a living? I am always saying that island life is the best life, one I never stop encouraging others to try. I was lucky enough to grow up in the Caribbean and I will always do my best to contribute to my childhood home in any way I can. I believe if there is something that you want, you just have to make it happen. Work hard. Set realistic goals and pro38. basscutlture islands

ceed within the limits of your means until you can set new, bigger goals and so you continue moving forward one step at a time. I’m not sure that I do anything differently from others; I just know that this is the way I like to work. Do you get to spend time on the beach outside of your work? These days I’m rarely on the beach without my laptop, that’s kind of part of the deal though - at least I have a better view than from an office cubicle! You are able to guarantee the ‘off the beaten path’ places on the island. Reveal one of the most amazing places in Curacao for our readers. One of my favorite spots on the island is in the West (our ‘countryside’) - a viewpoint in this tucked away neighborhood up on a hill that overlooks an amazing piece of untouched cliff and coastline. It’s hard to explain how to get there, but I can always take you there…

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What every traveler to Curacao should know: 1. DO have at least one meal at one of the ‘truk di pan’ (food trucks) that can be found across the island. 2. DO say good morning (bon dia), good afternoon (bon tardi) and good evening (bon nochi) when entering a restaurant, shop or other small establishment they’ll love it! 3. DO ask for a side of ‘funchi’ (cornmeal/polenta) when you go for lunch at one of the local fish huts along the water to sample the freshest catch of the day. 4. DON’T only stick to the by-the-book landmarks; exploring sights off the beaten path is the best way to get to know Curacao. 5. DON’T spend all your time at the beach (although the ridiculously crystal clear water is very inviting). There are hikes to be made, architecture to admire, museums to visit - something for everyone! 6. DON’T think you can see the island in just one day; there are so many sides of Curacao you need to explore while you’re there! 40. basscutlture islands

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Continue moving forward one step at a time

-Gaby Lieuw (Sand and Stilettos)

Location: Aruba/Curacao/NL

the drama in

PUNKY DONCH 44. basscutlture islands

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The true representatives of reggae music coming from Aruba and Curacao. Photographer: Ken Wolff

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The b an The N d was cre at etherl ands ed in 2008 group a in n o decid f friends j d started a amm ed to s a ing be music . The serious ab until they first s out th was ‘S on e m ‘Sensi oke Some g they reco ir milia’ Herb rded which Tonig bigge st h h ger an hit so far. as become t’ and It was d the their th s ‘Sensi milia’ tart of som e trigethin reach on ra gb ed di Bona os across A no 1 posi ig. ire an t ion r u b a, C da the ba nd re lso Surina uracao, leased me. In called th ‘G 2 of the angsta Re eir first al 009 b ir mu g u g m a e ’. I si releas ed alb c career an n the mids t d um th wron g ings s second tarted band’s … to go c Shank o-founder o told and b disap ass pl us ab po ay o on m intment a ut the dram er oving nd th e will a, . to kee p The fu ture l ooked Band ’s seco nd alb bright. um ‘O n my way’

was released in the fall of 2012. ‘This album was a really big project of 10 songs and it took almost 3 years to complete but the results were showing.’ – remembers Shanko. ‘Our first single ‘Rasta Lightning’ reached the no 3 spot on the Dutch FunX radio, x-charts . ‘Mamasita’ stayed at no. 1 for 5 weeks on the Funx Latin charts. ‘Maybe’ was a big hit on Aruba, it reached the no. 1 spot at several radio stations. On top of this all we were nominated in the category of the Best International Reggae band for the British Reggae Industry Awards.’ The band toured the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao, had a couple of big shows back in Europe before the last gig in November 2013 in the Melkweg, Amsterdam, as the opening act for Jamaican reggae sensation - Protoje.

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But things went downhill… ‘The plan was to release a new EP in the spring of 2014, with a remake of our no 1 hit ‘Sensimilia’. At the time it was a good plan but our lead singer Awaras went on a vacation to our home island, Aruba. He wanted to spend a month during Christmas holidays, but then he said he would stay a few more weeks… because it was carnival season… after carnival, he said he would stay for a few more weeks… until Easter weekend… At this time we canceled everything we had planned. As you could imagine most of us got aggravated and angry because we had an agreement which he didn’t fulfill. Ironically, around the same time we got a very promising management deal, we thought it could be the chance for us to accomplish some-



bigge r. ...And Awar as sai ing on d As yo the island f he would b u can or go e stay od im as a b omb e agine it k … ind of ven th expec te ca o put a d it to com ugh we alr me eady stop t e . A s o all o a resu we ha fo lt, d offer… to cancel t ur plans a we nd he ma ’ nagem ent Your reacti on wa ‘Awa’s s… v of Pu oice has be nky D en a t on ra his ow n life. ch but he demark a respe A lso ha fter a ct s that is each othe ll, as adult r s we ’s dec a part ision disap of life an po . the pa int you bu Some peo d p t s l ing or t behind an we can on e will ly leav d kee plann e p ing ou r next on workS o wh move a .’ singer t do you d o whe migra n ‘We h t ad to es to live a the lead c n We co o uldn’t me up wit island life? h just le t our a new plan brand . vanis h

since we worked so hard to build it up to this point. At first we thought that we could do a Punky Donch and friends collaborations. But we also have another singer in the band - our keyboard player Aschwin aka Buju. He has a great voice and he can sing different styles that are authentic to reggae music.’ …And what do you do when 3 members of the band leave? The band’s formation has changed. The drummer decided to leave while our lead singer and the guitarist migrated to Aruba. We are now looking for a new lead vocalist, we already have a few people in mind, and we will also work with a freelance drummer and guitarist. The remaining members are: Chris Doc Franca- co founder and percussionist, Challyman- Mc, Ashwin Buju- keys and vocals, Orville- keys and back-up vocals, Marco - Sax48. basscutlture islands

What k ‘This eeps you a band ll goin ophone, Anw is inspir g ar- soundman ed a l a movem ? and Shanko - the e o w n t t. We a o bass. The gu y an f pe itarist Nando who thing d for me it ople along have is also a foun t t i ding member, will help inspir o do, to ke s the most he with product e e u p ions from Aruba. show more peo on growi pright pl n th be ha em that t e. We hav g and e h r d e to r e is a What’s happ dedic but with way, i ening after th a a t l i o t ma o t of e storm? The new alb can m n and g um in 2016! ood t work and y a k e an ea ‘What can yo wi l l c u expect from ontin ything hap mwork yo it? We u u continue to h pen. S a e n to pu d ma ave our own o sound and style. There w One s ke good m rsue our d we ill b r u u this album, am e one zouk song on is just re thing is sic for ou eams r fans that P ongst all the gettin . reggae we ha tracks. We al unky g star so want to ex d t D periment this is I see it as ed! The 7 y onch with some d tr igital reggae e a and dub world new chap aining an ars style, some d d now ter. W ub-step but w to kn ow th here t ith live e wan drumming. a o We also have t see fo stay and t t our move the a soul influenced so hey w r them ment ng but all of i repre i them still connect with senta selves that ll be able t s reggae in on t o i w c v e way or omin es of e are another and g t still keep the – Sha from Aru he reggae true originality of its charac nko m ba an ter of a Punk d Cur usic y Donch track. acao. For this albu m we also te amed up with Maikal X, he will be our consultant on voca ls and lyrics. Th e plan is to release a si ngle sometim e this fall.’

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Leave the past behind and keep on planning your next move


- Shanko (Punky Donch)

the pe r fect f i tne s s wea Chandra Maharaj

Chandra is a fashion designer by profession and has designed everything from swimwear to high fashion, however right now her focus is on fitness wear and swimwear. Inspiration seems to find her on its own, and when it doesn’t she travels to find it. The inspiration for this latest fitness collection “Transform” comes from a recent love she developed for Yoga, and these Chandra Maharaj Swimwear yoga pants. So much, that she made it part of everyday look. As fitness became more a part of her personal life, fitness wear became a part of her daily routine. It is just so comfortable 50. basscutlture islands


and flattering you can wear it to do everything. ‘Fitness wear is supposed to feel comfortable, breathable, light, and secure, all while still being stylish and having that feel good factor to it. I believe that people should purchase pieces that make them feel good. Styles, shapes and colors that compliments their bodies and personalities and is functional for their fitness activity of choice.’

Location : Trinidad and Tobago


feel good to the touch, I don’t recommend it. And when it comes to choosing the right piece, it all comes down to what fits your needs. ‘

The colors

‘I love bright colors and the way it makes me feel when I work out. It changes my mood, and the overall energy of the workout, and I can only hope that it does the same for my customers. It is also a way of offering pieces that are ‘Avoid fabrics that aren’t comfortable, and doesn’t more fashionable as fashion, makes the fitness give your body the support it needs. If it doesn’t process so much more fun.’

The right piece for me

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Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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Location: Amsterdam, NL

BASSCULTURE FOUNDATION RIDES FOR 20 YEARS!! 16th and the 17th of October in OCCII, Amsterdam.

This year is the twentieth anniversary of Bassculture Foundation Amsterdam. Since 1995 Bassculture has been actively programming events and realising art manifestations and music productions. As an independent organisationBassculture strives to promote, represent and facilitate a diverse cultural scene for music and arts. 56. basscutlture islands

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In October this year, Bassculture will celebrate its’20th anniversary with the release of three new dub plates on 7 inch vinyl and a very special series of hand crafted center pucks (for 7inch singles) made out of brass and red copper. The three 7 inch singles are the result of a collaboration between Selektor Depender, two celebrated reggae singers; Mikey Murka and

Earl 16, the Bassculture Family Band, Filtercutter, Istati Lasterfahrer and Dub Creator. Simultaneously, with the release of the singles, Bassculture will come out with a limited series of heavy duty, handmade center pucks, crafted from brass and red copper. The series consist of 29 sets of two pucks and each set comes in its own unique box. The crown

on the collection is formed by two special designed boxes made by interior designers Erwin Zwiers and Laurens van Wieringen. In this product, a cross-over is made between design, craftsmanship and functionality. The complete series will be displayed during the official anniversary/release events. The lineup for the release events consists of

performances by Earl 16 dubbed live by Dub Creator, Cut it Dub, Selektor Depender, MC Diamanta, sax player Wouter Schueler and VJ Jorge Cumbre from Piss&LaughTV. This will take place on the 16th of October and the 17th of October in OCCII, Amsterdam.

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The sleeve design is made by Denisa Kollarova, a graphic design artist based in Amsterdam (and Rietveld Academy graduate). The sleeves are designed in a such a way that when the series is complete, you can put the individual sleeves next to each other and the complete artwork unfolds. Brilliant!

Photographer: Pixolar Photography

Laurens van Wieringen Interior Designer

‘I was doing some work on my oldtimer van when Marko asked me to join in on this project. I thought it would be nice to take my splicer and grinder to make a nice piece of raw oldschool crafmanship. The box is made from pieces of metal taken from the body of that old van with a vacuum pressed transparant lid, shaped in such a way that the pucks ‘fall in’ precisely. It was great fun to do and i hope that someone is appealed to it and wants to buy it from Bassculture!’ 60. basscutlture islands

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Erwin Zwiers Interior Designer

‘There certainly is a concept behind this design. I wanted to present the heavy brass and copper pucks in a very light way, making sure the focus is guided to the pucks. I chose to make a miniature display cabinet in wich the pucks are presented standing on brass rods. The frame of the box is made out of oak, wich is connected through dual slopes (the wood is cut in an angle so it fits together seamlessly)’ For the transparancy I used glass. Because of the dual slopes it’s hard to see how the box will open at first glance. This makes the user think and question how the box works. I like the idea that through the design I made, the pucks will be viewed as design objects. I hope that this box will get a nice spot where the owner will enjoy the pucks and the box I made.

Featured Photographer: JOHNATHAN BAENA

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German Gruber and Ewoud Bon

Filmmaking Duo on Set to Capture Curaçao Interview by Emiel Martens German Gruber and Ewoud Bon are a filmmaking duo from Curaçao and Amsterdam respectively. After graduating from art school, they set out to make feature films on Curaçao intended for local audiences. The first became Sensei Redenshon, a production realized with funding from local sponsors and people working for free. The film became an instant hit in Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire. EM: You met each other at art school in the Netherlands. How did you end up there and got together to work as a team? GG: Citizens of the Dutch Antilles have a Dutch passport, so we are able to apply for school financing in the Netherlands. I always had the in-

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tention to go there, learn as much as I could about filmmaking, and come back to Curaçao to make films. I got into the Utrecht School of Arts. On the first assignment, Ewoud and I were put in a team. It immediately clicked between us. I think it was because we both had no pretensions. We just liked the idea of making films and were searching for the tools. EB: We both had no real experience in filmmaking. We were curious about the same things and liked a lot of the same films. I think the most important reason we kept working together was the idea that it enabled us to remain independent. EM: You graduated with The Legend of Buchi Fil (2009), a short film about

end of Buchi Fil, I began writing the script right away.

slavery on Curaçao. Could you tell us a little more about this project? GG: I wanted to make a film about the history of the Dutch Antilles. We first talked about the story of Tula, the leader of the first rebellion in the times of slavery. However, I felt the story was too important and rich to be told in a short film, so I started looking for another story. When I heard the poem by Pierre Lauffer on the Antillean leg-

EB: Like every graduation project, it was all very low budget. The fact that we wanted to shoot it on Curaçao, made it even more difficult. We eventually managed to fly in a crew of fellow students. Buchi Fil was well received by the local public, and won Best Short Film at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival. It also screened at other festivals with good reviews. Most importantly, with the success we found out that there is an local audience for films made the island. EM: You decided to continue working together to make a feature film in Curaçao, Sensei Redenshon (2013). How did this film materialize?

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GG: The idea was to make a local genre film that would help create a local audience supporting local films. I didn’t feel like we needed more stories about crime, drugs and violence. I wanted to make something more personal, something we ourselves would enjoy watching. EB: As kids we were both fans of Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, so we started thinking in that direction. The idea was to make it without a budget: to film on a few locations and with little crew members. But then it got bigger and bigger: we got professional gear, crew members were willing to work without getting paid, and production manager Alejandra Sanchez succeeded in getting sponsors for the project. EM: Sensei Redenshon became the first martial arts film to be made in Curaçao and was largely spoken in Papiamentu, the local language. Why did you want to tell this specific story and in that specific language? GG: Besides that we wanted to entertain, we wanted to inspire. The idea of a sensei being more than just a fight

teacher, more a wise man that teaches lessons about life, motivated the story. As a local filmmaker I just had to tell the story in Papiamentu. We made the film for the local audience. For the Papiamentu-speaking islands, the language is one of the main aspects that gives this film its authenticity. The characters become real, partly because of the way they talk.

gave the film its authenticity – apart from Ewoud’s photography. When the lack of money starts to show, the beauty of his photography keeps you in the film.

EB: It was at the Curaçaon premiere that I found out how authentic German had written the dialogues. The audience was jumping out of their seats a couple of times. They could really identify with it.

EM: So with this success under your belt, what’s next?

EM: When Sensei Redenshon was released in local theatres, it became a big hit. The film also did well at film festivals in the Caribbean and beyond. Could you tell us about the success of your film? GG: I think people liked it because it was the first time they could go to the theatre and see a modern local story with characters they could identify with, and in the language they speak. Instead of hiding our flaws, we tried to use them in favour of the film. They

EB: Because we filmed on actual locations, the beauty was just there. I just had to pull my camera out and capture the moment.

GG: Right now we are working on another feature film project about Curaçao, that we will present at the Caribbean Film Mart during the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival this year. EB: We have just started our own production company called Provider Films, with the aim to continue making independent Curaçaon films for local audiences. There are still so many beautiful and important stories on the island to be told.

Cine Caribe By Emiel Martens

This year World Cinema Amsterdam (WCA) turned the spotlight on the Caribbean. Under the name Cine Caribe, the annual film festival in the Dutch capital screened over twenty productions from the region. Over the last decade Caribbean cinema has experienced an unprecedented growth, with new films and filmmakers emerging from across the Caribbean islands. WCA showcased the richness of Caribbean cinema by screening films from the Anglophone, Hispanic, Francophone and Dutch Caribbean. Probably not surprisingly, Cuba was most visible in the Cine Caribe programme. Ever since the triumph of the Cuban Revolu68. basscutlture islands

tion in 1959, Cuban filmmaking has occupied a leading place in Latin American cinema. In fact, within the Caribbean, Cuba has long been the only country with an indigenous film industry. The current generation of Cuban filmmakers are sometimes called ‘street filmmakers’, as they largely work ‘in the streets’, i.e. in the outdoors, outside the state industry, and beyond national borders. Many films coming out of the island are characterized by a willingness to tackle taboo topics. Ernesto Daranas’ Conducta (Behaviour) and Marilyn Solaya’s Vestido de Novia (Wedding Dress), both selected for WCA, address topical issues facing the island nation. Vestido de Novia delves into the discrim-

ination against the Cuban LGBT community, while Conducta – a smash hit in Havana – provides a critical but deeply humane look into the lives of poor Cubans. Hispaniola, the island directly east from Cuba, has a relatively less established tradition of filmmaking – though in recent years significant strides have been made. The island consists of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two countries that are considered among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with some of the worst social conditions in the Caribbean. The Cine Caribe films coming from this troubled ‘split’ island address these conditions from different locations and perspectives. Meurtre à Pacot (Murder in Pacot), for exam-


ple, the new feature film by Haitian director Raoul Peck, looks at the consequences of the 2010 earthquake by zooming in on a wealthy household in Port-auPrince. In contrast, Passage, an award-winning short by Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer, follows a group of poor Haitians fighting for survival on board a refugee ship. The Anglophone Caribbean was again well represented at WCA this year. The festival’s Inside Jamaica program two years ago – with films such as Better Mus’ Come, Ring Di Alarm and Redemption Song – already reflected the rising fortunes of Jamaican filmmaking – and the island’s film sector has continued to evolve since. In July the first

Art Connect

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Jamaica Film Festival was held in Kingston, showing the work of various Jamaican filmmakers. The Cine Caribe program included one film that made its national debut there: Mary Well’s Kingston Paradise. Like many Jamaican films before, from Harder They Come to Ghett’a Life, Kingston Paradise is set in downtown Kingston, yet with a different look and feel, presenting it as an everyday place where people live, work, struggle and dream. Parallel, more and more films coming from the island explore different locations and genres, such as Cleaning House, a short film by promising Jamaican filmmaker Toni Blackford.

year however from Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean nation that is currently taking the lead in developing the Caribbean film industry. In recent years the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) has joined the Havana Film Festival as the foremost film festival in the region. Each September filmmakers from all parts of the Caribbean come together in Trinidad’s capital, Port-of-Spain, to showcase their work. Last year various new Caribbean films were screened, including Jéróme Guiot’s Pan! Our Music Odyssey and Miquel Galofré’s Art Connect, two great T&T documentaries that received their Dutch premiere at WCA. Both explore the power Most selected films from the An- of culture for the healing and glophone Caribbean were this development of society and its

Kingston Paradise

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individual members. The third T&T film in the Cine Caribe programme was God Loves The Fighter, the urban drama about the gritty underworld of Portof-Spain that is doing so well in the film festival circuit. Last but not least, there were two films from Curaçao included in the Cine Caribe programme: Sensei Redenshon and Sombra di koló (The Shadow of Colour). So far film production on the Dutch Caribbean island has remained largely nascent. When the Curaçaon martial arts film Sensei Redenshon appeared in the island’s theatres last year, it became not only a welcome exception, but also a hit among local audiences. Sombra di koló is a thought-provoking documentary by anthropologist Angela

Roe. Born in the Netherlands of a Dutch father and Dutch Caribbean mother, Roe became interested in, and eventually made a film about, race relations in contemporary Curaçao – still very much a taboo topic on the island.

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All in all, the Cine Caribe programme showcased the new wave of Caribbean cinema in all its vitality and diversity. Addressing both unique local concerns and common global issues, the films provide fascinating and compelling insights into the region and its place in the world.

Love, Loss and Country Review of Abo So by Romola Lucas of the Caribbean Film Academy

Abo So (English: Only You) is an award-winning musical directed by Juan Francisco Pardo from Aruba. Entirely shot on this beautiful island in the Dutch Caribbean, the film tells the story of a young couple, Santiago (Miguel Genser) and Tatiana (Raphaela Mahadeo), who are each struggling with their own life and family issues while falling in love. Pardo uses this love story to explore other themes, such as loss, loneliness and respect within the family, and brings in songs to reveal the characters in ways dialogue wouldn’t be able to do. Santiago and Tatiana sing to express their feelings during both the happy and heart-breaking moments in their relationship. Pardo also explores the dynamics in familial love,

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by contrasting Tatiana’s distrust for men, which is a result of her dad’s behavior, with the love, admiration and fond memories Santiago has for his dad. And while Santiago does everything possible to protect his younger brother, Tatiana’s relationship with her brother is strained. There is also the subtle treatment of Aruban culture, for example when we see Tatiana questioning Santiago’s mother’s continued use of Spanish in a country with Papiamento is the main language, and Tatiana’s view of her as a woman who ‘takes husbands.’ The cinematography of the film is extremely beautiful – from panoramic views to the seamless incorporation of the beautiful pastels characteristic of the homes in Aruba, and from the use of the calm and peaceful ocean when the lovers are happy to the sunrise and sunset scenes showing the way humble people are in touch with nature. All in all, Pardo gives us a heart-warming, complex and layered love story, with beautiful visuals, on a beautiful island. It is definitely well worth the time.

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The Fifth Annual Aruba

International Film Festival by Romola Lucas of the Caribbean Film Academy This year the Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) will be held from October 7-11. The festival returns after a one-year hiatus and promises to be a great event for the regional and international film community. The screenings will be hosted at the state-of-theart Caribbean Cinemas at the Palm Beach Plaza Mall in Oranjestad. The festival will offer a program of narrative features, documentaries and shorts selected from a diverse international pool and will have films in competition in five different categories: International Features, International Shorts, Doxnfocus, Caribbean Spotlight and Aruba Flavor categories.

Through the Caribbean Spotlight Series and Aruba Flavor Series, the festival promotes regional and local filmmaking talent. As in past editions, the festival will screen films from Aruba, Venezuela, Curaçao, Colombia, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, Haiti, Mexico, Cuba, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and other Caribbean countries. This year the festival will be introducing its International Film Market Aruba (IFMA). Dubbed as one of the first of its kind in the Caribbean, this market will provide actors, directors, writers and producers from all over the world the opportunity to pitch and sell

their films to international agents and distributors. Market participants will also have the opportunity to maximize their film’s exposure by arranging special industry screenings for their peers and the visiting press. All films submitted through FilmFreeway for the program categories will automatically be entered into the IFMA film market.

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