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Caribbean

Published on September 21st, 2014 | by Nigel Telsford - Trinidad Express Newspapers

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Celebrating the journey of steelpan

The Globe Cinema came alive and was packed to capacity last Tuesday evening, as specially-invited guests from all walks of life assembled to witness the grand premiere of the movie, Pan! Our Music Odyssey. The last remaining stand-alone classic cinema in north T&T was chosen as the venue for the opening of this year’s film festival partly due to necessity and largely due to its historical significance in relation to the film selected as the curtain-raiser for the festival. Screenwriter of the film, Dr Kim Johnson notes that the location of Globe at “Green Corner” represented the dividing line between east and west Port of Spain and was the site where many bands would clash not only with rivals from over the border, but also with the police and colonial authorities.

This time though, the police presence served mostly to direct traffic away from the gathering of well-decked folks, as actors, celebrities, business executives and other specially invited guests lined up on the red carpet just before 6 p.m. The air was ripe with anticipation and filled with the welcoming smell of fresh popcorn, the din of casual conversation and the reverent rattle of the classic cars parked adjacently. Meanwhile, inside the hallowed halls of the theatre, the specially assembled Odyssey Steel Orchestra (led by Ray Holman) ‘ramajayed’ as patrons appropriated seats, but no pan notes managed to leak outside of the venue.

Much like the evolution of the steelpan, the evolution of local cinema has been greatly affected by corporate interests and increasingly restrictive “societal standards”: instantaneous public reviews replaced with personal whispers, passionate tributes exchanged for shameless plugs of advertising and a general disconnect between the performers and their audience(s). Of course, these very same factors have also resulted in even larger audiences bearing witness to the respective art-forms—with larger profits also appearing as a by-product.

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