Caribbean Journalist VINETTE K. PRYCE Describes Award-Winning, Independent Film GARIFUNA IN PERIL as a “Wake-Up Call”

Garifuna American Actress YESSICA ALVAREZ as Helena in the Award-Winning, Independent Film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL.  Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Garifuna American Actress YESSICA ALVAREZ as Helena in the Award-Winning, Independent Film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL. Photo courtesy of Aban Productions. 

 

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New York City, New York — Caribbean Journalist and Columnist for the Caribbean Life Newspaper based in New York City, VINETTE K. PRYCE recently wrote about the Award-Winning, Independent Feature-Length Fictional Film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL for the Caribbean Life Newspaper; not only describing it as “multi-layered” and a “cautionary tale”, but also as a “wake-up call”. 1  GARIFUNA IN PERIL was recently released on DVD and those interested in buying the GARIFUNA IN PERIL DVD can go to the Amazon.com website.

Caribbean Journalist and Columnist Miss VINETTE K. PRYCE.  Photo from xlcralumni.com

Caribbean Journalist and Columnist Miss VINETTE K. PRYCE. Photo from xlcralumni.com

In a testament to the effectiveness of the filmmaking, Miss Vinette K. Pryce’s writing on the film is not only a  reminder as to how you cannot predict a person’s response to a film, but also that what they take from a film (or simply, how they perceive a given film) is just as unpredictable.

In her writing about the Award-Winning, Independent GARIFUNA IN PERIL film, Miss Vinette K. Pryce accurately assesses the many issues Garifuna In Peril brings to the forefront in it’s unique fictional docu-drama, particularly the emphasis on the challenge (and the nuances at play) when attempting to maintain Garifuna culture.   She notes that the Garifuna In Peril film “offers an opportunity to revel in the culture” and serves as a “wake-up call to preserve the heritage and culture of the Garifuna people”.   2

EDITOR UPDATE (May 16th 2014): Screen Grab of the GARIFUNA IN PERIL Movie Review by Vinette Pryce in her “Inside Life” Column in the Caribbean Life Newspaper.

Review of Award-Winning, Independent Film GARIFUNA IN PERIL by Caribbean Journalist and Columnist VINETTE K. PRYCE for "Inside Life" Column in the Caribbean Life Newspaper in the May 16-22 2014 issue.

Review of Award-Winning, Independent Film GARIFUNA IN PERIL by Caribbean Journalist and Columnist VINETTE K. PRYCE for “Inside Life” Column in the Caribbean Life Newspaper in the May 16-22 2014 issue.

Miss Vinette K. Pryce is Jamaican and in her news story also makes a connection and  links the Garifuna people with the Maroons of Jamaica, explaining that both ethnic groups have served as fierce examples of resistance against British colonization over the course of  history.  She previously wrote about Garifuna In Peril winning a special Audience Award at the Festival del Cinema Latino Americano di Trieste in Italy.   3

Garifuna In Peril Movie Poster.

Garifuna In Peril Movie Poster.  

There are a few slight mistakes included in the news story, and you can attribute some of the mistakes to semantics and the haze that surrounds the facts that are part of early Garifuna history.  Add to that, that the Garifuna people are a relatively little-known ethnic group whose history and culture has largely been relegated to the world of academia and you have mistakes like reporting that the Garifuna people were exiled from St. Vincent to Orinoco, when in fact, the Garifuna people were exiled to Roatan, which is a small island off the coast of Honduras in 1797.

EDITOR NOTE: Orinoco is a Garifuna Village in the Central American country of Nicaragua.  Orinoco is also one of the largest rivers in South America and is part of the Amazon in the northern section of South America.  Anthropologists have also noted that Arawak Indians and Carib Indians from the Orinoco/Amazon region migrated to St. Vincent Island centuries before.   4

Ruben Reyes as "Ricardo" in the film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL.  Here, he is involved in a dispute over land in Honduras.  Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Ruben Reyes as “Ricardo” in the Award-Winning, Independent Film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL. Here, he is involved in a dispute over land in Honduras. Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Also, Miss Pryce also describes GARIFUNA IN PERIL as a documentary.  In fact, people who have seen the movie and critics have noted that with the film’s naturalistic, subdued ‘acting’ as well as chronological direction of the editing in the film; that the movie comes across as “matter-of-fact” and that the sense of a viewer watching the film is that of one peeking into the “real-life” of a people as opposed to some Hollywood production.   5

This film is a fictional or fiction film production in the sense that there was a script, actors who played characters, camera equipment and lighting that were used to evoke a pre-determined feeling and/or mood.  While, the style of the filmmaking gave viewers a sense of a documentary, the hard work of the filmmakers that manufactured or produced the style was quite different than that of a documentary production, where a film crew is typically ‘capturing’ life as opposed to deliberately mimicking life.

Garifuna American Actress Yessica Alvarez as 'Helena' in the Garifuna In Peril Film.   Here Co-Director Ruben Reyes goes over a portion of the script with her.  Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Garifuna American Actress Yessica Alvarez as ‘Helena’ in the Garifuna In Peril Film. Here Co-Director Ruben Reyes goes over a portion of the script with her. Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Again, that’s a testament to the effectiveness of the filmmaking that viewers and critics feel like they are watching something REAL, as opposed to a film with fantasy elements typically associated with a big-budget Hollywood production today.  That the film deals with real-life issues complicates matters somewhat and the film blurs the line between reality and artifice.  In short, as a casual observation, many people who have watched GARIFUNA IN PERIL have called it a documentary when it’s actually more like a docu-drama.  As a point of reference, some reality shows or reality dramas do an effective job of blurring the line between what’s ‘real’ and what’s scripted.  I first noticed that filmmaking practice on a reality-drama television show like “The Hills”.   6  Anyway, as I noted in the beginning of this post, it’s impossible to predict how someone will perceive a given film.

There is also something to be said for the tendency for what documentaries offer moviegoers.  Miss Vinette K. Pryce began her news story by explaining that if it weren’t for, “conscientious documentaries, topical, historic and often under-reported news-worthy issues might never be exposed.”   There’s a grounded rootedness that characterize the best documentaries and they serve as an alternative to what Hollywood movies typically offer today.  Though not specifically stated, Miss Vinette K. Pryce’s reaction to the GARIFUNA IN PERIL film, as expressed by Miss Pryce writing about her perspective and impression of the film, suggests and brings to light the new type of cinema that this film represents.  It’s a new kind of movie, folks.

Garifuna In Peril Co-Director Ruben Reyes pointing on the set of the film.  Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Garifuna In Peril Co-Director Ruben Reyes pointing on the set of the film. Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Miss Vinette Pryce’s review and news story on the Award-Winning, Independent Feature-Length Fictional Film GARIFUNA IN PERIL is a perceptive and insightful piece of writing.  Read it if you get the time.   Saragu Seremein (“Many Thanks” in the Garifuna Language) to Caribbean Journalist and Columnist VINETTE K. PRYCE for consistently writing about the GARIFUNA IN PERIL film and expanding awareness of the film to her many readers.  It is VERY difficult for independent films to garner press and media attention for their films unless there is some sort of Hollywood connection, which is not the case here.  Maburigau (“Salute/Greetings” in the Garifuna Language) to Miss Vinette  K. Pryce for being open-minded enough to take the time to see and write about this unique, independent film and of course, sharing her impression of the film with her readers.   Seremein for helping the Garifuna people share their/our story.

Those who are interested in seeing what the buzz is about and care to  buy the GARIFUNA IN PERIL DVD can buy it off of the Amazon.com website. Those who take a chance and buy the DVD will be rewarded with a new kind of movie.  Below is a trailer to the Award-Winning, Independent GARIFUNA IN PERIL film with English subtitles.

Garifuna In Peril has screened to large audiences at over 40 film festivals in 10 countries, and attracted media interest due to its status as the first dramatic film primarily in Garifuna, a language proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  The film was shot in Honduras and the United States, with a cast of newcomers, and features 19 songs of Garifuna music in its soundtrack. While the film is in Garifuna, English and Spanish; viewers have the option of seeing the film with subtitles in English or Spanish on the DVD.

Awards won by the Garifuna In Peril Film include:

  • ‘Best Narrative Feature’ at The 2013 Arizona International Film Festival
  • ‘Indie Spirit Special Recognition’ at The 2013 Boston International Film Festival
  • ‘Golden Remi for Docu-Drama’ at The 2013 Worldfest Festival in Houston
  • ‘Audience Choice’ at The 2013 Festival de Cinema Latino American di Trieste (Italy)

The plot of the film follows the journey of a Garifuna language teacher Ricardo in Los Angeles as he struggles to be a good father, husband and brother while taking responsibility to preserve his native language, traditional culture and community lands against the expansion of tourism.  Ricardo’s plans to build a Garifuna language school on the north coast of Honduras become complicated by the expansion plans of a tourist resort in the area and personal betrayal pushes him to travel to Honduras and directly confront land issues in tandem with his educational mission.  Meanwhile, Ricardo’s son Elijah rehearses a theater play dramatizing an episode from the life of Garifuna Paramount Chief Joseph Satuyé and his last stand against the British on the island of St. Vincent.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men,  1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   7

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

ABOUT Caribbean Journalist and Columnist

VINETTE K. PRYCE 

Caribbean Journalist and Columnist Miss VINETTE K. PRYCE.  Photo courtesy of xlcralumni.com

Caribbean Journalist and Columnist Miss VINETTE K. PRYCE. Photo courtesy of xlcralumni.com

 

Miss Vinette K. Pryce is an Award-Winning, Journalist with a career spanning over 30 years.  Hailing from Jamaica, she has frequently contributed to reports in The New York Beacon, The Amsterdam News, London’s premiere Black Weekly THE VOICE, the monthly PRIDE Magazine, The Chicago Defender, Texas Times as well as The L.A. Sentinel in Los Angeles.  In addition to writing news stories for the weekly newspaper based in New York City, CARIBBEAN LIFE, she also writes the ‘Inside Life’ column for that weekly newspaper for over 20 years.

She has interviewed Three United States Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton), Seven Caribbean Heads of Government, which include Jamaican Prime Ministers, Michael Manley, Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson.  Miss Pryce has also interviewed Four African Leaders, including former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Miss Pryce has also filed regular news and entertainment reports with several monthly magazines.

  • Black Beat
  • BRE (Black Radio Exclusive)
  • Black Diaspora
  • Class Magazine
  • Everybody’s Magazine (Caribbean)

Miss Vinette K. Pryce was awarded Journalist of The Year by The Caribbean Media Association in 1994.  She was also awarded The CTJ Award of Excellence in 1991.  In 2007, she was the recipient of a Juneteenth (June 19th) Day Citation from former Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron for her relentless contribution to the Black Press.

Notes:

  1. Vinette K. Pryce, “Indigenous Hondurans Unite To Preserve Culture”, Caribbean Life Newspaper, May 9th 2014.  http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2014/5/2014_05_08_vkp_inside_life.html
  2. Vinette K. Pryce, “Indigenous Hondurans Unite To Preserve Culture”, Caribbean Life Newspaper, May 9th 2014. http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2014/5/2014_05_08_vkp_inside_life.html
  3. Vinette K. Pryce, ” ‘Garifuna In Peril’ Wins”, Inside Life, Caribbean News, November 11th 2013. http://caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2013/11/2013_11_07_vkp_insidelife.html
  4. The Migration of the Garifuna People. Stanford University. http://www.stanford.edu/group/arts/honduras/teacher/images/migrationmap.pdf
  5. Mark Bell, Garifuna In Peril Film Review, FILM THREAT, December 2013. http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/73144/
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hills
  7. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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