Gender issues in focus at TT film festival

Made by artist, author and filmmaker Jaime Lee Loy, Bury Your Mother is a haunting, visually entrancing film depicting a psychological engagement between a mother and her daughter. Through experimental techniques, the audience glimpses the everyday actions and inactions of these two women, who seem physically confined to their house. Conversations between them are few and far between and spoken only in text, as silence and sounds dominate the dark atmosphere. As various troubling scenes unfold, it becomes evident that the protagonists struggle with departure, loss, intimacy, and betrayal.

Bury Your Mother is one of a number of films at this year’s Festival that engages with issues of gender and women’s rights. Another is the Indian feature Four Women, by the celebrated director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who will be in Trinidad for the screening. Based on a series of short stories, the film examines the lives of four women — a poor prostitute, a young bride, a wealthy housewife and an ageing spinster — and how they are circumscribed by the conventions of a traditional, hidebound society. The film is set against the lush backdrop of rural Kerala, and is a subtly acted and sensitively directed drama that never has to resort to sensationalism or blunt hectoring to make its message felt.

A film that deals with similar themes to Four Women is the bold short, Lioness of Lisabi, directed by Vlady Valentin Oszkiel. This is the story of Funmi, a young girl straddling modernity and tradition in 1940s Nigeria. Funmi’s mother, a powerful market woman, insists on sending her away to England for a proper education. Aided by a guardian angel, she makes the trip, eventually returning as a confident young woman who is compelled to publicly confront the all-too-familiar oppression of a patriarchal society.

Lioness of Lisabi, Four Women, and Bury Your Mother are just a handful of the more than 60 films set to be screened at the fourth annual TT Film Festival, whose presenting sponsor is FLOW and is supported by the Tourism Development Company and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company. The Festival, which runs from September 16 to 29 at MovieTowne and venues around the country, features local and Caribbean films, as well as films from the Caribbean Diaspora, and films deemed to be made in the Caribbean spirit.

As ever, in addition to the film screenings there will be film workshops, discussion panels with invited directors and much more. For comprehensive information on the TTFF09 visit the Festival website,, and check the blog,, for news and regular updates.


"Gender issues in focus at TT film festival"

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