March 11, 2005
Garifuna film to hit the screens

Filmmaker Andrea Leland is currently in this country researching the history for the soon to be produced film on the Garifuna people here.

Leland noted that she once visited this country in the 1980’s after just coming out of college, where she spent some three months learning the arts of Vincentians. {{more}}She expressed having interest during the 80’s to do a film but that that time did not seem favourable. She however was encouraged to do a documentation some 15 years later on the Garifunas of Belize where she made the film, “The Garifuna Journey.”

Leland said she was encouraged to make the film in Belize because of her earlier work on Haiti’s Voodoo Culture which the Garifuna Council saw and appreciated. She said because her work does not exploit, she was able to gain the acceptance from the Garifunna Council. “The Garifunas have experienced years of exploitation from anthropologists and other researchers, so the Council has been hesistant to let foreigners film their culture.” she said. “But, because I am an independent film maker, who doesn’t work for some big cable or television network, the Garifuna people in Belize opened up. I was able to connect and be that bridge to help them amplify their voice in their community.”

The filmaker said she noticed that the Garifunas here and those in Belize share a similar trait in the way they are proud of their heritage. ‘It must have been something dramatic on the minds of the Garifuna people in Belize who dream, sing and write poetry of St.Vincent and the Grenadines (Uramay) But now I am here again, I can see why they long to return home. This country is absolutely beautiful”

Meanwhile, president of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, Zoila Ellis-Browne, said this film will not only be a form of entertainment for viewers, but will also educate people as to their heritage. She said she is constantly bombarded with students who are doing their school projects and this will help them get the knowledge. Ellis-Browne also noted that this film is a way to pass on the heritage of the Garifuna peoples.