Tag Archives: Rue Cases Negres

11 Films That FEEL Like Travelling

Great films don’t only entertain me, they’re an assault on my imagination!  They stimulate my intellect, fuel my quest to understand.  Film has long been a magical medium offering an unusually intimate look at many a place I may never visit.  Like great novels, when done well, cinema plants the desire to see with my own eyes, places I’d often not previously considered visiting.

Film feels powerful because the immersion in another place is shallower than a book, but quicker.  90 minutes earlier, I’d barely heard of El Salvador (the South American immigrant community is comparatively small in London), now I’ve seen Innocent Voices; I know a lot more about one kid’s story, his life amidst a civil war, and the horrors of child soldiery.  I’d love to learn more. Continue reading

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Anniversaries and Artistes

I’m in hyper-reflective mode this week as my one year anniversary since arrival in Martinique approaches.

But while I prepare to reveal my innermost thoughts on that occasion, I thought I’d share some more local music on the same theme of anniversaries.

Namely the first music I interacted with upon arrival in Martinique; Taime’s La Ka Lité.  The video absolutely wowed me when I first saw it, such was the creativity with no millions behind the artist.  I hadn’t been in Martinique for 24 hours.

Taimé is certainly a talented young fellow and his skills as a cartoonist and filmmaker are on impressive display here, along with the extremely catchy tune.  Check it out and tell me it isn’t cool…at least the lil Lion…

Keeping to the theme of anniversaries…

So image manipulation is like in the family it would seem for this young artiste.  Turns out that Taimé is the godson of none other than Euzhan Palcy.  She’s his ‘marraine du coeur.’  As in the patron of London’s Images of Black Women film festival.  As in an early black female writer-director.  As in the internationally renowned iconic black filmmaker.  Who just happens to be Martinican, or a martiniquaise.

While her name might not ring a bell, hopefully her film Black Shack Alley aka Sugar Cane Alley aka Rue Cases Nègres, an award-winning black film classic celebrating 30 years of acclaim and general awesomeness this year is familiar.

If you don’t read French, this is the one time where checking out the film instead of the book – Rue Cases Nègres by Joseph Zobel – is perfectly respectable.  It’s a powerful coming of age story set in 1930s colonial Martinique and is well worth watching if you’ve not seen it yet.  I personally love the Medouze character, and José’s relationship with the old man, but I’m especially partial to a well-spun yarn.

In the absence of a decent trailer, instead you should check out this 10 mins montage of various scenes which gives a taster.  It’s French so it starts with the credits. The opening voiceover sets the scene nicely ‘It was the summer holidays.  All the kids from Black Shack Alley were waiting impatiently for the adults to go to work in the cane fields so that they could be alone and free all day long.’

I first saw Rue Cases Nègres a decade ago and I loved it instantly because it seemed to represent an image of the Caribbean childhood of my parents and the stories I’d heard about my grandparents’ lives.  Which I’d never seen on screen.  And certainly not from their perspective.

Taime’s work was less personally affirmative.  However it did introduce me to the concepts of creole hip hop, and top-quality music videos for unsigned artists.  Thus a serious eye-opener!

With no further ado, I present two pieces of Martinican artistry which I’m fond of, produced some 30 years apart.

Enjoy!