Friday, August 04, 2006


Paris is Burning at the Studiofilmclub

What if visions of material wealth constantly bombarded you through billboards, window displays, on television and in glossy magazines? Or, that you lived in social conditions and were told that you’ll never amount to anybody, and that you will be ostracized for who you were? In destitution, as with the film Paris is Burning, you'll find a way out with self confidence and an extravaganza that screamed vogue.

At the Fernandes, Centre, Laventille, Port of Spain, Studiofilmclub is a place to socialize and discuss a film’s synopsis with one of the creators, Peter Doig. At times when there are popular screenings, there isn’t even enough room to find a seat. Yet, at the screening, Paris is Burning, 1990 directed by Jenny Livingston what was thought to be a crowd pleaser fell short to only a few patrons, pondering whether the film’s content of Homosexuality ie; Bullers, Pantyman, Battyman Drag queens and Transvestites reinforced its homophobia, even to the sophisticated, arty boosh studiofilmclub’s goers.

Paris is Burning a documentary on the Gay culture in New York city and is performed aa s costume Balls where their marginal lives of hustling and prostitution, Bullers, Battymen Drag queens and Transvestites from the Hispanic and black community portray in costumes what they would like to be in an exaggerated way directly taken from the pages of Vogue magazine. These young men strut the catwalk to be judged by their peers. Vogueing is competing with each other through dance, says Willi Ninja one of the major influences of the movement and immortalized by Madonna in her video, Vogue. See the post by photographer Gerard Gaskin who has documented these types of Balls in New York.



Cinema for most people is a form of escapism and it is a place where you can lose yourself in the plot. For two years, two artists have devoted their Thursday nights to share what they truly love, and that is film. At the controls are Peter Doig and Che Lovelace piloting a projector that for every week since its inauguration, audiences have been sedated by a record of one hundred film screenings. The Studio Film Club shows independent and foreign films that are obscure. But foreign films to the Trinidadian audience is nothing new, since 1999, the European Union has promoted their films through a free public screenings at former deluxe theatre. The film festival had a score of memorable films such as the German film, Winterschlfer, (Winter Sleep), directed by Tom Tykwer, and the French animation, Kirikou and the Sorceress which resonated warmly with local movie goers and publicized the fact that films of a different caliber has its place .

Peter Doig's weekly movie poster

For those who can make the trek to Building 7, Fernandes complex in Laventille, there are a few adjustments to consider. This is House, but feels like Pit. A prolonged screening can be discomforting due to the heat of the place and rigidity of the seats. The Studio Film Club deals with these pitfalls the best they can, electric fans are in place, and there is a refreshment bar to cool people down. Yet people come prepared, bringing their pillows which adds their devotion these screenings.

There are hits and misses and Mr. Doig says that the misses can leave you listless and dry. Ultimately, the angle is to be diverse . The future of the Studio Film Club is directed towards mobility. Mr. Lovelace stresses that their is a need to show films in rural places throughout Trinidad and Tobago. For communities that have never been exposed to foreign cinema, a simply projector in community hall wall may transpose the a flicker on a dirty marked wall.

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