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Dominica Diary

Anna Thew
1991
15mins colour 16mm

Dominica Diary

(a film) with sounds of sulphur jets, rain forest birds, three children, and a lady preacher.

"A mystic took us 16 miles up into the mountains, past stunted forests devastated by the hurricane that struck fifteen years ago, to the Valley of Desolation, an inhospitable volcanic region, to the rim of the crater of one of the largest boiling lakes in the world…"

Shot on a Bolex with out of date stock and rush printed after many months, the film is a document (but not a documentary) of what the camera sees in this magic nature island, where contact to images is so close, where you can still drink the water as you swim, where the big foot of western capitalism hasn't yet made its print, where the rain still falls at the rate of 1 metre a month, where everything grows that drops to the ground, where they say, "don't take a picture of this island, ma'am, or you will take its soul"… but where they also speak in tongues.

The film is a simple poem, a celebration to nature. It has a child-like naïve aching. The naked children who know all the names of the plants, sing pop rhythms into the walkman and play kung fu games from the white Hong Kong movies for the camera. There is the echo of religion from another more sinister invasion. A lady preacher tries to make the heathen film-makers convert.

A film of pure images, with a glimpse of paradise on the one hand, and the Valley of Desolation as a grim reminder of the violence of nature, on the other.

Appearances: Josephine Daniel of Paddington, Jeannette Paul of Calibishie, with little Ernie Boland, Shanna Robin and Johnny Laville who sing for the film. Voice and Cr&233;ole, Arthur Peters of Roseau now of Brixton and Margo Cargill of Stepney.

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