The endless charm of Nang by Nang (CTFF 2018 Spotlight)



The CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) 2018 will be held in September in Toronto, Canada and Redmangoreviews will be giving you dear reader a sneak peak into a few of the films. For our article today we will be checking out the documentary feature Nang by Nang.

When Trinidad-born, Canada-based video artist Richard Fung went looking for his first cousin Dorothy Mavis Russell aka Anang aka Nang in New Mexico he uncovered a 90-year-old woman full of energy, intelligence and wit, and a life of dance, love, heartbreak and perseverance.

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Director Richard Fung

In her nine decades on this planet Nang has lived an interesting life. She was the illegitimate child of a “playboy father” and a mother who despised her.  As a young woman (with the attractiveness of an Asian Eartha Kitt) she danced with iconic Trinidadian artists and brothers Boscoe and Jeffrey Holder.

Her multiple marriages ranged from the loving to the physically abusive. “Everybody I meet why do they always want to marry me?” she comments to Fung in one scene.

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Nang and Richard during their visit to Trinidad

Having seen and experienced so much there is a brightness in Nang’s eyes, an energetic presence that belies her age and an undeniable strength of character that has weathered much adversity. There is also a warmth to her that you would want to have her as a kindly aunt or grandmother regaling you with interesting stories.

Fung’s portait of Nang is both intimate and organic; he allows her to tell her story with his narration popping in and out to help fill the gaps. You can tell his great affection for the subject (which is understandable because Nang is quite lovable) by the loving yet candid portrayal.

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An old clipping of Nang during a dance performance

There is also great use of archival material and photos and the ones of Nang as a dancer are especially striking. The most touching moments come when she speaks about her difficult relationship with her mother and when she revisits old places and faces in Trinidad. Nang by Nang is a fascinating journey into an intriguing life that is definitely worth checking out.

This delightful documentary and other great films can be viewed at CTFF 2018 which is being held from September 5-20 in Toronto, Canada. For tickets and more info on the CTFF click here.