Caribbean Datebook (September/October 2013)

Events around the Caribbean in September and October 2013

  • Photograph courtesy the Coco Dance Festival
  • Photograph courtesy the St Lucia Tourist Board
  • Photograph courtesy the Tobago International Cycling Classic
  • Audience at a ttff screening in Port of Spain. Photograph by Marlon James, courtesy the trinidad + tobago film festival
  • Photograph courtesy the Moengo Festival of Music
  • Still from Melaza. Photograph courtesy the trinidad + tobago film festival


Catch a flick

Eight years on, the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) is still going strong, as it continues to celebrate films from the Caribbean, its diaspora, and “heritage countries” — including, for the first time this year, China. A special highlight: a retrospective of the work of black British filmmaker John Akomfrah. At the opening night gala, director Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun — an adaptation of the popular novel by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — will open the usual packed programme of feature-length and short films, with 130 narrative, documentary, and experimental selections. ttff/13 also includes workshops, panel discussions, seminars, and a Unesco-ttff conference called “Cameras of Diversity for a Culture of Peace.”

When: 17 September to 1 October
Where: locations around Trinidad and Tobago
For more info: visit

Jonathan Ali of the trinidad+tobago film festival shares his top five picks from the 2013 programme

Three Kids
Director: Jonas D’Adesky • 2012 • Haiti • 81 minutes
A steadfast friendship binds three twelve-year-old boys living in a children’s home in Port-au-Prince. When an earthquake devastates the city, the lads escape to seek their fortune on the streets.

God Loves the Fighter
Director: Damian Marcano • 2013 • T&T, USA • 104 minutes
Charlie is a young man seeking to make ends meet on the streets of Port of Spain. Reluctantly, he takes a job from a gang leader as assistant to a drug courier. An honest yet sympathetic tale of real life as lived in contemporary urban Trinidad.

The Stuart Hall Project
Director: John Akomfrah • 2013 • United Kingdom • 100 minutes
In 1951, Stuart Hall left his native Jamaica to study at Oxford. He would later become one of the UK’s foremost cultural theorists. This powerful documentary portrait of Hall is comprised entirely of footage from his archives.

I Am a Director
Director: Javier Colón • 2012 • Puerto Rico • 87 minutes
A budding filmmaker returns to his native Puerto Rico with plans to make a movie, Hollywood style. There are just a few small complications: he has no script, no money, and no discernible talent. A hilarious satire on the filmmaking process, by turns savage and affectionate.

Director: Carlos Lechuga • 2012 • Cuba • 80 minutes
In the town of Melaza, the sugar industry is at a standstill. Monica, receptionist at the sugar mill, still goes to the factory daily, although it has been shuttered for a year. Her husband Aldo teaches swimming in a pool with no water. To make extra money, they engage in a lucrative but illegal venture.

Tobago International Cycling Classic
When: 1 to 6 October
Where: around Tobago
What: In its twenty-seventh year, the island-wide tournament attracts some of the world’s top cyclists to compete in one of the Caribbean’s loveliest landscapes. New to the 2013 programme: two days of off-road mountain biking, through the picturesque hills of Tobago’s Main Ridge
For more info: visit



Make some moves

Quick, think about the best dance video or musical you’ve ever seen. Those dance moves are all the work of talented choreographers who use the human body as their medium. If you’re interested in seeing what some of the best Trinidadian choreographers have to offer, check out the fifth annual COCO Dance Festival in October. More formally known as the Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective, COCO is the brainchild of Dave Williams, Nicole Wesley, Nancy Herrera, and Sonja Dumas, themselves choreographers, who use this event as “a platform of innovation, experimentation, and excellence.” Alongside a programme of performances, there will be an award ceremony honouring those who’ve made significant contributions to the world of dance.

When: 11 to 13 October
Where: Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain
For more info: email, or visit the COCO Facebook page




Get your Moengo groove

Like most Caribbean territories, Suriname has a rich past that influences its present. The country’s many cultural influences are the backdrop for the new Moengo Festival of Music in September. Organised by the Kibii Foundation — which was founded in 2010 by visual artist Marcel Pinas, profiled in the July/August 2013 Caribbean Beat — this is the first in a triennial series of cultural festivals focused on music, dance, and contemporary art. Pinas, a descendant of Ndjuka maroons, sees the event as an opportunity for the indigenous people of the rural Marowijne region to showcase their culture and talent. The festival, which will host local, regional, and international music groups, plus workshops and a craft market, is the beginning of a bigger plan to brand Moengo as a cultural district.

When: 20 to 22 September
Where: Moengo, Marowijne district
For more info: email




Aruba Reef Care Project
When: 21 September
Where: Beaches around the island
What: Volunteers help clean up the scenic beaches and reefs of Aruba, with the collected waste sorted for recycling. Twenty years after it started, the project is still going strong
For more info: email or call +297 740 0797




Caribbean Fine Cocoa Conference and Chocolate Expo
When: 25 to 27 September
Where: Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay
What: Nothing else signals guilty pleasure as immediately as chocolate, and while you may not be a chocolatier with an interest in the business side of things, the expo will feature all sorts of delicacies made from the humble cocoa bean, as well as chocolate-making master classes
For more info: visit




Practice your Kwéyòl

Jounen Kwéyòl — Creole Day — began in 1984, and is a celebration of the food, music, dress, culture, dance, and other aspects of life that make St Lucia unique. The highlight of Creole Heritage Month, which runs all through October, it is the biggest national cultural festival in the island. Each year, different communities are selected to host Jounen Kwéyòl activities, which include a Creole Mass, a food and drink fair, and an “exhibition of Creole technology, equipment, and items depicting the folk life of the ancestors of modern-day St Lucians,” with cultural performances throughout the day.

When: 27 October
Where: communities across St Lucia
For more info: visit, or call the Folk Research Centre at +758 452 2279 or 453 1477




Caribbean Food & Beverage Expo
When: 18 to 20 October
Where: Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Barbados
What: Looking for culinary masterpieces from the Caribbean? Be sure to visit the expo to experience cooking demonstrations, competitions, Q&As, pastry displays, and a chocolate fashion show on the final day — yes, you read
that right . . .
For more info: visit




Latin Festival St Kitts
When: 27 October
Where: St Kitts Marriott Resort
What: It started out as a way to bring the Caribbean and Latin America together, but has grown up since then. Now in its fourth year, and with a Dominican Republic focus, the Latin Festival continues to spice things up, with music, food, and dancing
For more info: visit



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