Ken Maquire photo
Howard and Mitzi Allen (in photo, right) of HAMA Productions will screen their films in two public programs and conduct master classes for cinema students during their weeklong visit to Ithaca College. These will be the first showings of the films outside the Caribbean. The visit is part of the Cinema on the Edge series, sponsored by the Department of Cinema and Photography in the Roy H. Park School of Communications.
The lecture will take place on Tuesday, April 15, and include a screening of "No Seed," a political drama released in November 2002. HAMA's first feature film, "The Sweetest Mango"--a romantic comedy released in 2001--will be screened on Thursday, April 17. Both programs will take place at 7:00 p.m. in Park Hall Auditorium, and both are free and open to the public.
It was less than three years ago that the Allens branched into filmmaking, after a decade of work as independent producers of documentaries, corporate and industrial videos, music videos, and television programs. Their initial foray into the world of feature films has garnered attention and positive reviews at home -- one in four Antiguans and Barbudans has seen "The Sweetest Mango" -- but beyond the islands of the Caribbean their work is not known.
"Filmmaking in Antigua and Barbuda is in its infancy and much of what we do is experimental and developmental," Howard Allen says. "It's more than 'going to the movies,' it is a cultural cinematic experience."
He adds that there are special challenges to producing feature films with limited resources in a developing nation. "There is a need to tell our own stories, to nurture talent, to allow people's dreams to come true, as well as to train a company of actors and technicians. One of our objectives is to collaborate with other film-industry professionals, work with regional talent, and tell the type of stories that move beyond the stereotypes of Caribbean people."
In addition to their classroom presentations, the Allens will explore the possibility of an ongoing relationship with faculty and students in the cinema and photography department. They also will interview students for two possible summer internships to assist in the production of HAMA's third feature film.
The Allens say that their production company has a lofty goal: "to ensure that filmmaking in Antigua and Barbuda becomes as vital to our economic development as tourism."
Contributed by Janice Levy