ABENG ARTS, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, and UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HOST U.S. PREMIERE OF
DOCUMENTARY FILM AND PANEL DISCUSSION
APRIL 1 & 2, 2009
MIAMI, FL – Florida International University’s Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC); University of Miami’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS); Abeng Arts; and the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago are pleased to premiere the documentary film Calypso Dreams at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, April 2, 2009 at the University of Miami Cosford Cinema, 1111 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33124. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Dr. Geoffrey Dunn, legendary Calypsonian Lord Superior, and producer Alvin Daniell.
The film premiere is preceded by a panel discussion entitled Music, Resistance, and the Caribbean’s Calypso Legacy, on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at 2:00 p. m. at Florida International University, Graham Center 140, University Park Campus, 11200 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, Florida 33199. The panel will feature outtakes of Calypso Dreams with the filmmaker Dr. Geoffrey Dunn. He will be joined by Lord Superior (Andrew Marcano) and Alvin Daniell in what promises to be a lively discussion on the vibrant social and political forum Calypso has provided historically and in contemporary Trinidad & Tobago.
The filmmaker, Dunn, began work on the film nearly a decade ago, but now clearly represents a “critical document of Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural history…many of the stalwarts we chronicled in the film have since passed,” Dunn has noted. “Kitch, Preddie, Blakie, Terror, Zandolie, Mystic Prowler, Ras Shorty I, and now Duke. And many of the locations are gone now, too-like the People’s Mall and the Pelican Hotel and several buildings on Frederick Street.”
The feature-length documentary film Calypso Dreams chronicles the spirit and traditions of Calypso music in the island country of Trinidad and Tobago, dating back to its complex Afro-Caribbean roots in the 18th and 19th centuries. With narrative commentary by the popular Caribbean musician David Rudder, the film captures riveting, contemporary performances by a host of legendary Calypso performers with colorful “sobriquets,” including the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Lord Superior, Black Stalin, Mighty Bomber, Lord Blakie, Singing Sandra and Mighty Terror, and pays homage to recently deceased Calypsonians, including Lord Kitchener and Lord Pretender. The film also includes a rare and exclusive interview with Harry Belafonte on the issue of his early involvement with Calypso and his complex relationship with Lord Melody in the 1950s and early ’60s. Using a rich array of archival footage and photographs, Calypso Dreams illustrates how the music was corrupted and homogenized by the American music industry in the 1940s and 1950s, only to survive and, ultimately, thrive in international anonymity.
About the Artists
Geoffrey Dunn has produced and directed more than a dozen documentary films, three of which have qualified for Academy Award nominations—Miss or Myth?, Mi Vida, and Dollar a Day, Ten Cents a Dance—with the latter receiving special recognition from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His films have shown at the most prestigious film festivals around the world, including those at Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Los Angeles (Filmex), London, Chicago, Mill Valley, Venice, New York and Montreal. They have been distributed internationally in theaters and broadcast over Bravo, PBS, and the BBC. He also wrote the screenplay for the feature film Maddalena Z. A Rhodes Scholar nominee, Dunn was the recipient of a John L. Senior Fellowship at Cornell University and holds a Ph.D. in sociology. He currently serves as a lecturer in both Film and Digital Media and Community Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of the award-winning book, Santa Cruz Is in the Heart, and served as editor and principal author for Chinatown Dreams: The Life and Photographs of George Lee, which was the recipient of an East-West Book Award. Dunn recently received a prestigious Gail Rich Award for his contributions to the arts and culture in Northern California.
Lord Superior burst onto the Calypso scene in Trinidad and Tobago in 1954, at the age of 16, with his first hit, “Coconut.” During the 1960s and 1970s he challenged for the Calypso Monarch title on several occasions, the most memorable being in 1974, when he won the South Crown in San Fernando and placed fourth on Dimanche Gras behind Sparrow, Shadow and Lord Kitchener. Superior also engaged in a 25-year-battle for a calypso radio station in T&T, and eventually won a court decision. Superior was honored by UNESCO in 2004 for both his 50 years in calypso and for being named one of the Top 50 Calypsonians of all time. He served as a co-producer of Calypso Dreams and is a featured on-air performer and commentator in the film.
Alvin Daniell is one of the great cultural figures in Trinidad and Tobago. He is a composer, television presenter on cultural events, and has served as an adjudicator for Calypso Competitions, Pan Competitions, National and Caribbean Song Festivals and various other cultural competitions in Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean. He has conducted workshops on Calypso and Pan in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua and Miami. In the 1980s he teamed up with Len “Boogsie” Sharpe to produce a number of hits including “Rags to Riches” and “Carnival is Bacchanal.” Daniell has also served as chairman of the Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago from 1995 to 1999 and currently he is the President of his own publishing company, Major and Minor Productions, Ltd. MAJOR & minor PRODUCTIONS LTD. Earlier this year he was appointed Chairmen of a new State enterprise company, Trinidad and Tobago Entertainment Company (T&T Ent). He was recognized for his contribution to Culture by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago when he received the Hummingbird Medal, a National Award, in 1995. He also served as a co-producer of Calypso Dreams.