Still in time for Black History Month, a local film group will host a series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), with Caribbean culture as its focus. 

“The Caribbean Film Series” is presented by BAM and The Luminal Theater, a non-profit corporation and “nomadic cinema” that allows independent Black filmmakers to present their work and gain access to audiences. The series began in 2015 and is back in action after a pandemic-related two-year hiatus. She Paradise and Cousins will be the first films presented on the series’ Feb. 22 re-opening at BAM. 

“It’s really that we curate these sets of films that speak to and for Black audiences,” said Curtis John, the founder and executive director of The Luminal,. “I should say Black international audiences as well, because we are all about the diaspora, hence having a Caribbean film series under our belt as well.” 

She Paradise follows the resilient story of Sparkle, a 17-year old girl in Trinidad who tries to find her place in the Soca dance scene of downtown Port-of-Spain. The film, directed by Trinidadian filmmaker Maya Cozier, was released in 2021.

As summarized on the The Luminal Theater website: “Though lacking dance experience and street smarts, she auditions, convincing the women to take her under their wing. Caught up in an exciting, dangerous new world  revolving around partying, glamor, and cash, Sparkle is forced to make tough decisions as life spirals out of control.” 

In Cousins, a Brooklyn teenager is reunited with her Guyanese cousin for the funeral of a relative. But on the last day of the wake, the girls venture out into the city alone. Cousins was directed by Mandy Marcus who hails from Brooklyn. 

John spoke on finding the filmmakers and their content through partners such as The Third Horizon, which produces and exhibits Caribbean films, in addition to being a presenter in Luminal’s Caribbean series. Sometimes the films come by way of producers bringing their content to The Luminal. 

“It’s actually not a complicated process, it’s just about forging and maintaining relationships,” said John. “That’s what all of us do well, thankfully.’ 

The Caribbean Film series begins on Tuesday, Feb. 22 with the two films running from 7:30-9:30 PM. Tickets can be purchased for the night’s event at the BAM website. General admission is $16 and members of BAM can purchase tickets for eight dollars. The next films in the series will premiere on April 27 at BAM.

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