Patrice Robinson Talks … Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close

Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close is a film season set to showcase the best of Caribbean filmmakers …

Curated by Patrice Robinson in association with Trinidad + Tobago film festival Snapshots … will take place at The Barbican Centre this May. This being Robinson’s curatorial debut we were keen to find out how she made her film selections and why it’s important to showcase storytellers from the Caribbean ….

Please introduce yourself …

My name is Patrice Robinson and I am a film programmer and writer. I am British Jamaican, born and bred in London. 

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …

Exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Tell us about Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close … 

Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close is a season seeking to showcase cinema from the Caribbean with an additional focus on self-representation through film. 

What’s your role in it?

I’ve curated the season. 

How did Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close come about?

I obtained funding to go to an international film festival of my choice last year and I picked the trinidad+tobago film festival. I wanted to learn about contemporary cinema coming from the region as I felt that audiences in the UK have limited access to it. The festival theme that year was #Seeyuhself and it made me think about representation and how we take ownership of ourselves, our image and our work. Following the festival, I knew I wanted to capture and share the experience with audiences back in the UK so I started to think about how I could achieve that. I presented the idea to my colleagues at the Barbican and Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close was born from this. 

Parsley (Dominican Republic 2022, Dir José María Cabral)

There’s been some discussion that Caribbean films and filmmakers don’t get enough attention. Why do you think that is especially when you consider the global impact of Caribbean music?

I think historically the Caribbean has been seen as a region that consumes films instead of one that produces them. As a result funding and resources have not been prioritised and the infrastructure in the region is limited. I imagine investors see the Caribbean as a relatively small region in comparison to larger film markets making it more difficult to get films green-lit there. Thankfully, there is a wave of emerging Caribbean filmmakers making interesting works, and Caribbean cinema is now being showcased on a wider scale. I’ve particularly aimed to give a platform to these filmmakers in the Currents programme of Snapshots.

And what was the process when it came to choosing which films would best represent the intention of the festival?

The festival takes pride in showcasing work from across the region which in my view is the very definition of variety. With this in mind, I wanted to ensure the season had a good mix of shorts vs features which captured narrative tales in addition to documentaries. Given the complex history of the region, I sought to select films which told stories across a spectrum; highlighting the pride, joy and energy captured through music to the harsh reality of trauma and hardship experienced over time.

One Hand Don’t Clap (US 1988, Dir Kavery Kaul)

Festival / Cinema programmers don’t really get enough credit for the importance of their work – can you give us an overview of why this role is so important and why you were drawn to it …

The role of a film programmer is important because you play a part in opening up audiences to new spheres of knowledge, beauty and truths. The creation and exhibition of art in all its forms is political and with that comes responsibility. When done well and with consideration for filmmakers, contributors and audiences, you are creating an environment for reflection, discussion and potentially, action and change.

I was drawn to programming and film exhibitions because I am interested in the dialogue between creators and audiences. I like the idea of bridging the gap between them. 

Highs, lows, solutions …

The ultimate high for me was when the programme was confirmed. I feel quite strongly about each film as they all speak to something quite important and work well together as a collective.  The low was coming to terms with the fact that I could not show all the films I wanted to. I had to be cutthroat with my choices which was challenging but I am pleased with the selection made. 

Strictly Two Wheel (Jamaica 2022, Dir Ania Freer)

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

What’s your current plan B? 
Expressing myself creatively is the way forward for me. I don’t have a plan B. 

What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?
Seeing that the season has been well received as made me glad. I’m really excited for people to see the films. 

What are you watching right now?
I’ve been watching lots of shorts as research for a potential project which is exciting. I’m also on season 2 of Luther. My friend was shocked that I’d never seen it before, and she convinced me to give it a watch.

What are you reading right now?
The Hidden Gems anthology edited by Deidre Osborne and including the works of legends such as Courttia Newland and Lemn Sissay. 

What are you listening to right now?
I’ve had Kelela’s Raven on repeat since it was released. 

The last thing you saw on stage?
I saw For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy in April and I was in awe. 

What’s on your bucket list? 
Too many things, but combining my love for film and travel by going to more international film festivals seems like a good place to start. 

Celebrate someone else …
Rōgan Graham is a film programmer and writer whose work I rate. 

Celebrate yourself …
Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close is my debut curatorial season and I’m proud of what I’ve put together and looking forward to what’s coming next. 

Whose footsteps are you following in?
My path is my own, but I embrace the guidance and love of every Black woman who has ever fed into me and provided me with an immeasurable amount of support. From my family and friends to the unofficial mentors who have given me a chance/trusted me and to those older and wiser who have put a battery in my back and pushed me to take a leap of faith when I did not think I could. I owe them the world. 

What’s Next?
I am honoured and so excited to be guest programming the 18th edition of the trinidad+tobago film Festival. Beyond that … watch this space. 

Where can we find you?
Patricerobinson.uk 

When is Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close?
From Wed 17- Wed 31 May at the Barbican. Come and say hello!


For more information and to book visit Barbican

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