Tras à memwa : the emergence and development of French Caribbean cinema
Wright, Meredith Nell
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In December 1899, the Italian camera operator Giuseppe Filippi, trained by the famous French Lumière brothers, arrived in Haiti and began conducting film screenings for local audiences. Within the next two years, his Caribbean travels led him to Guadeloupe and Martinique, where he left behind him a seed of interest in an art form that, as I will demonstrate, would alternately develop and wane over the course of the twentieth century depending on funding and the turbulence of the fluctuating French Caribbean political and cultural climate. Chapters one and two provide a thorough roadmap of the development of the French Caribbean film industry and conclude chronologically, arriving at the current state of cinema in these islands. Though the debate over the existence of the industry still carries on amongst local film professionals, particularly in Guadeloupan and Martinican circles, these chapters offer compelling evidence of distinct and verifiable cinematic production. The final two chapters consist of an analysis of a set of five films, chosen for their relatively recent release as well as their thematic, aesthetic, and structural variety. This set of films constitutes evidence of a wave of films unified by their preoccupation with memory, an orientation that mirrors and reinforces a contemporary cultural movement in these islands, and by their advancement of overt, contextually relevant postcolonial political agenda.