Glass Bottom Boat sails for Toronto (August 30, 2015)

Tobagonian dirKyle Walcott articleector/filmmaker Kyle Walcott’s short film, Glass Bottom Boat, explores themes of love and loss, as it tells the story of Janet Wells, an American woman who traveled to Tobago and fell in love. The film will air on September 16 as part of the CaribbeanTales international Film Festival (CTFF) in Toronto.

Walcott, 22, said his film was originally destined to be about sex tourism in Tobago, until he met Wells and her genuine love story. “You have a lot of foreign women who come and find local men just for sex but then you also have persons who genuinely find love and have great lives after coming to the island. So this was essentially showing the other side of the dynamic that sex tourism creates locally.”

The film takes its title from the initial meeting of Wells and Galla (Philbert Bruce) as he was repairing a glass-bottomed boat. It shows the love thatWells, who is from Vermont, holds for Tobago and the journey she has been through on the island.

Walcott said Wells was more than happy to tell her story on camera after he was introduced to her through mutual friends. “It was entirely by chance, but it really stood out to me and I believe that whenever something stands out to you that strongly, you should do everything in your power to make it happen. It might seem like it can’t be interesting just having someone sit down and tell their story but I tried my best to use visuals that I had already been collecting for the purpose of the sex tourism documentary combined with visuals that would help her story and then when I put it all together I felt like it was a really good expression of what it is needed to be said.”

He also expressed admiration for Wells, who has become a part of the community. “She actually owns the land where another inter-racial couple live, Lennon and Veronica, who are founders of the Healing with Horses Foundation, a non-profit that helps under-privileged children, children in the community, persons with special needs and gives them therapy with the horses. They also carry out the Buccoo Integrated Summer Camp, a great initiative that happens every July in Tobago.”

Walcott said he is excited that he has been granted another opportunity for more persons to see the film. It premiered at the 2015 T&T Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Local Documentary Short, Best Documentary Short overall and the People’s Choice Award. It was also aired at the Havana International Film Festival and was highlighted at the 2015 Tobago House of Assembly Day celebrations.

He said in the future, he wants to create a safe space for young filmmakers. “I want to empower them, provide logistical and technical support and make connections with older persons in the industry who can help them out. I also want to do things to jumpstart the Tobago film industry because even though we have a beautiful environment and everyone you talk to in Tobago has an interesting story, you just don’t see films about it. I think there are many reasons for that and I want to reduce them so more people could tell their stories and have a voice in Tobago filmmaking. I always say I don’t want to be the next Spielberg but I want to be the one who owns the camera that the next Spielberg uses.”

Walcott said the film’s inclusion in the Queer Caribbean strand of the CTFF was due to its pairing with another Queer Caribbean film on the basis of a shared theme of love, which is an over-arching theme throughout the film, as well as that of sex tourism.

CTFF CEO Frances-Anne Solomon said “For the past four years, we’ve had a focus on queer programming to spotlight the issue of the legalization and the legitimization of queer identity in our cultures. Queer people have been vilified, attacked and sometimes killed and it really hasn’t been addressed in our society. So I feel it’s really important for us to provide a forum for the expression of queer issues and bringing queer people into the mainstream of Caribbean culture because it really is a matter of equal rights, human rights, freedom of expression and people being able to be who they are and love who they love. With so much hate and dissension in the world, love should be promoted and encouraged as a wonderful thing. This year we’re happy to say as part of the Queer Caribbean strand we have four feature-length films and three short films that focus on queer issues across the region in various forms.”

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