Saturday, December 16, 2017

‘Calypso Dreams’ ...the sequel


With Supie: Lord Superior, left and Dr Geoffrey Dunn. —Photo: Tom Kwai Lam

Mark Fraser

Dr Geoffrey Dunn, the award-winning filmmaker and bestselling author, has announced that a sequel to Calypso Dreams – named as “one of the greatest films of the English-speaking Caribbean” —will be released later this year.

According to Dunn, the film will feature an acoustic performance by the Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) and Lord Superior (Andrew Marcano) originally filmed on the rooftop of the Hilton Trinidad, in Port of Spain when the Calypso Dreams crew was first in production a decade ago. 

“We used snippets of this performance in the final cut of Calypso Dreams,” Dunn noted, “but it has always struck me that this performance should be presented on its own, in its entirety. Several people that I have shown the rough footage to have said that it’s the greatest acoustic performance by Sparrow they have ever seen recorded. Supie (Lord Superior) is absolutely brilliant, not only on guitar and singing back-up, but also singing some of his own hits. It was a magical moment.”

Dunn said he has also discovered additional archival film footage and photographs that will be incorporated into the film.

“It’s a momentous document of calypso history,” said Superior, who will be serving as executive producer of the sequel, “bridging more than 120 years between ‘the Mighty’ and ‘the Lord’.” 

“2014 marks Supie’s Diamond Jubilee (60th year) in calypso,” Dunn said. “Next year will mark Sparrow’s 60th . Both of them faced some severe health challenges this last year. It’s time to honour them with this sequel. The film will provide a rare and intimate encounter with two of calypso’s great legends.”

Dunn said the working title of the film is The Glamour Boyz Again: The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior on the Hilton Rooftop. He said that he expects to have rough-cut available “in the next three months” so that he can submit it to the trinidad + tobago film festival. “Our goal is to have the film stage its world premiere in Port of Spain,” Dunn said, “and no better place than at the ttff. We’re keeping our finger’s crossed.”

Filmed entirely in T&T over a three-year period, Calypso Dreams has played to widespread international acclaim. It was named ‘Best Caribbean Film’ at the Jamerican Film Festival, while it went on to win the ‘Audience Favourite Award’ at the Washington DC International Film Festival.

Longtime US-based film critic Michael Oliver-Goodwin named Calypso Dreams one of the Top Films of the Decade (2000s), calling it “by far and away the best film ever made about calypso.” It was lauded at a film conference in Florida as “the most important cinematic expression [ever to come] out of Trinidad and Tobago.” 

Calypso Dreams pays homage to a number of late T&T calypsonians, including Kitchener, Spoiler, Melody, Lord Pretender, Mighty Terror, Blakie, Lion, Ras Shorty I, Conqueror, Striker and Mystic Prowler. 

In addition to Sparrow and Superior, it includes performances by a host of legendary kaisonians, including Relator, Crazy, Calypso Rose, Superior, Duke, Black Stalin, Bomber, Brother Valentino, Gypsy, Regeneration Now, Singing Sandra, Power, Poser, Explainer, Mudada, Brother Akil, Trinidad Rio, Scrunter and Sugar Aloes. Clyde ‘Lightning’ George provided pan arrangements.

Dunn said his longtime partners, including Superior, Alvin Daniell of Major and Minor Productions, and co-producer Michael Horne, who first envisioned the project nearly 30 years ago, will continue to play roles in production and distribution of the sequel. He said he also expects to consult closely once again with Carla Foderingham, CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company. “I can’t imagine doing something in film in T&T without Carla being involved,” he noted. “She is always a pleasure to work with—the consummate professional.”

The film has gone on to be selected for first-tier film festivals throughout Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean. Regionally, it was featured as part of the First Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase, sponsored by UNESCO and coordinated by internationally renowned Cuban film producers Rigoberto Lopez and Luis Notario, touring some 17 countries, including Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, Guyana, St Maarten, St Lucia, and Suriname. 

It was also featured at a World Cultural Forum sponsored by the United Nations in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Associate producers of Calypso Dreams included Sonja Dumas, Lutalo Makossa Masimba (Brother Resistance), and Dawad Philip. Barbados-based reggae star Eddy Grant served as executive producer. Cinematographer Eric Thiermann and US-based filmmaker Mark Schwartz also served as producers. Dunn says that he’s hoping that Resistance, currently president of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) “will play a significant role in this production.”

Narrative for the film was provided by Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), David Rudder and Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba), while Cro Cro, Denyse Plummer and Shereen Caesar supplied supplemental commentary. Liverpool, Ray Funk and George Maharaj served as historical consultants, while Cathy George of the Bertie Marshall Pan Institute provided additional support. 

Dunn says that he anticipates the sequel featuring Sparrow and Superior will not only stand on its own, but will also inspire a “larger distribution entity’ to entertain production of a 13-part television series incorporating the footage that they originally shot during their three years of production. “It’s really amazing material,” Dunn noted. “So many of the performers have since passed. It simply cannot be duplicated.”

Currently distributed by Major and Minor Productions in T&T, Calypso Dreams CDs and DVDs are still available at several local outlets, including Crosby’s, Cleve’s, Kam’s, Rhyner’s (2000) Caribbean Ltd., Token Records and Paper Based at the Normandie.