|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 76 - Monday January 30, 2006
|Filmmaker Set for Film Debut in Dominica |
by Thomson Fontaine
Just a few months after the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean II, Dominica is set for yet another movie but this time from a Dominican film maker.
Fiona Riviere, who was born in Dominica and migrated to the Virgin Islands at the tender age of two, has chosen Dominica for her film debut “Tall is Her Body - Waitikubuli.”
Waitikubuli is the native Carib name by which Dominica was called before colonization. The film is inspired by political events that took place in Dominica in the late 70’s, specifically in 1979.
The film tells the story of Josephett a journalist who writes articles about the tension between local people and the government and encourages protests against the conditions that they endure.
In the end, following massive street protests, the government is forced out of office and we see new changes in the society.
When theDominican.net sat down to talk to Fiona, she was at the preproduction stage of Tall is Her Body after a December visit to Dominica for location and scouting purposes. The trip also allowed her the opportunity to make contact with some of the key players during that period of Dominica’s history as well as to view the archives of, and talk to, the country’s leading historian, Lennox Honneychurch.
The Film Director and graduate film student at Howard University in Washington D.C. was delighted with her visit to Dominica, and could not help but reflect on the country’s stunning beauty and the friendliness of its people. She will return with her film crew in early April to do a casting with a view to begin shooting of the film later in the summer.
Reflecting on her film project, Fiona remarked that “hopefully this will be the first insider perspective film to be done in Dominica. It is time for us to tell our stories using film and Dominica has many stories.”
She continued, “I hope this will be a start for many more like it. Film is not just a story telling or entertainment tool, it is a form of relating history. People can look back at films and tell so much about the time when it was made, politics, religion, fashion, economics, and society as a whole, can be reflected in the films.”
Fiona’s love for her country and her desire to tell its story propelled her to do the filming on the island. “Of course, I have the option of shooting a film anywhere. Indeed, it is easier and cheaper for me to make it in Washington, DC, or in the US in general. However, because film in some Caribbean countries is still in an infancy stage I want to help develop this industry.
When a film is made not only can it preserve and market a country and its culture, but during the production process people have the opportunity to learn how it is done for themselves. There are many filmmakers that first learned the art of filmmaking from their work supporting a film project.”
Pointing to one of the very first African filmmakers Ousmane Sembene, from Senegal, she noted that “he got his start from working on a production then after he learned for himself he began to tell his own stories about his country and culture. Hopefully this film will also give this opportunity to others in Dominica.”
As an independent filmmaker without the support and deep pockets of the large film studios, Fiona appreciates that the preproduction stage is necessarily a tough one and is in the process of seeking financial support, and assistance for accommodations, craft services and equipment. “Once we can get these needs satisfied then we are on the road to making history in Dominica.”
After migrating with her family from Dominica, her mother is from Thibaud and father from Calibishie, she lived in St. Croix before going on to Tampa, Florida where she obtained a Bachelors of Science in Business Marketing, and is presently at Howard University working on a Masters in Film.
Her current projects include production manager on The Unhealing Wound (www.pastforwardfilms.com), Assistant Director/Stage Manager on Prison Poetry (www.prisonpoetry-theplay.com) set to be at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington on February 25, 2006, and Writer/Director on Tall is Her Body: Waitikubuli (http://tallisherbody.blogspot.com).
Fiona along with some other black filmmakers was recently featured in an article in a local Washington newspaper the District Chronicles, which explored the role of local filmmakers in breaking the Hollywood stereotypes. The article also focused on the difficulties that black film makers were having in securing financing for films that tended to be outside of what the Hollywood studios considered to be stereotypical.
There are several filmmakers that Fiona admires: “I definitely love and look up to my mentor Haile Gerima, filmmaker from Ethiopia who has done Sankofa, The Battle of Adwa, Ashes and Ember. I also admire Euzhan Palcy from Martinique:Rue Cases Negres was a really good film and I like the fact that it is in French Creole. That to me says a lot about the filmmaker. She is one person that I would love to meet one day.”
Persons interested in finding out more about the film and its production are encouraged to contact Fiona at [email protected] or her producer Kim Bey at [email protected].