A European filmmaker from Belgium who made his first trip to the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago has developed a love for their food, culture and the natives.
Jerome Guiot told The Camera that “the island hooked me so much that I just embraced some of the culture and the way the people behave together. I’m not even talking about Carnival.”
He spent several weeks in the country to complete the movie Pan! Our Musical Odyssey which was shown in France, Germany, London, Amsterdam, New York and here in Toronto during Caribbean Tales Film Festival in September this year.
He said he had never heard pan music prior to being introduced to it in Trinidad and Tobago, adding “it didn’t take much time to understand the power of the instrument.
“When you see all these people involved and all the energy involved in the whole pan movement, you really feel it’s something else than what we know as music in general.”
The film traces the history of pan as between 1939 and 1945, during World War II, developed nations savaged one another. Trinidad and Tobago’s underprivileged urban gangs forged a new musical instrument and perfected it by the 1950s.
Pan was born.
Since then steel bands have mushroomed in every corner of the planet. Still Trinidad remains the Mecca where each year philharmonic orchestras of over 100 musicians, many coming from all countries of the world, compete for the greatest pan event: Panorama.
“I didn’t know anything about Trinidad and Tobago but when a company from Paris asked if I was interested in shooting a movie in Trinidad and Tobago, I started searching on my other phone to find out more. I said of course, it’s the Caribbean, are you kidding me, so two weeks after I was on the plane to meet the Trinidad and Tobago person, who is a French man but lived there for many years,” Guiot said.
He spent almost three weeks working on the 79-minute film and getting to know about his subject matter, pan, and the people, food and culture.
“Since then I’ve been trying by anyways to get back there. It actually kind of ruined my life in Brussels because in Brussels everything looks boring now,” the director said.
“Now I have some friends in Trinidad and Tobago and I’m trying to go back as soon as possible.”
He added that “the daily life in Trinidad is really interesting, it’s not like the post card Caribbean islands but it’s very different than Belgium.”
He said he has fallen in love with roti. “I’m trying to get roti as much as I can in Europe but I can’t find good roti.”
Guiot has been involved in shooting music related movies and directed many music videos and has worked for TV music shows.