So the curtains have come down on the 13th annual Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and audiences were treated to some inventive and highly entertaining films.

For this post I decided to feature three short films connected by water and dark themes. Here are my spoiler free reviews for Live Bait, The Deliverer and Mangroves.

Live Bait

live bait
Umm, you seein’ what I seein’?

I first discovered the extraordinary talents of Anand Lawkaran with his star-making turn as Mr Gidharee in Green Days by the River. In Dominic Boos’ Live Bait he plays a fishermen coerced into making a boat trip to deliver some “packages.” The strength of this dark comedy lies in the snappy dialogue and the interaction between Lawkaran and co-star Joshua Philips. The two bring the laughs as well as some intense scenes. The script could have done with some tightening but overall Live Bait is a fun trip. And shout out to my friend Chris Smith as a fish vendor who features in one of the film’s funniest scenes. You can check out the film’s Facebook page here.

The Deliverer

The Deliver inset
What are you looking at?

I was so excited when I saw the trailer for crime drama The Deliverer that I was inspired to do a trailer review, and I have not done a trailer review in donkey years. Technically it’s donkey months but you get the picture. The film is written by and stars Trinidad-born actor Paul Pryce (Unforgettable, Marvel’s Jessica Jones) and is the tale of a fisherman seeking to stop a corrupt government from destroying his village. When his attempts fail he agrees to traffic cocaine between Trinidad and Venezuela.

There is just something so polished about The Deliverer. The visuals are striking, the acting is top notch, especially from Pryce and co-star Michael Cherrie, and the stakes feel high. But the best feature of the film is the economy of it; no scene or line feels like filler but everything pushes the story forward. The short is a proof of concept for a feature film planned for next year and it definitely succeeds in making the audience want a heck of a lot more of this thrilling tale. For more on The Deliverer you can check out their Facebook page here.

Mangroves

mangroves 2
You know you’re going to have to pay for that right?

Ever watch a movie that has you on edge from start to finish? Fantasy folklore short Mangroves is one of those movies. It is the tale of a man who goes into the Trinidad mangroves in search of something and encounters some supernatural creatures. First of all Mangroves looks really, really, ridiculously good. The cinematography and smart shot composition beautifully captures the lush setting and the eerie soundtrack is downright chilling.

The film is written, directed by and stars Teneille Newallo who showed her not inconsiderable writing talents in The Cutlass. Here she brings a strength and gravitas to her mysterious character. Stephen Hadeed Jr. plays the desperate man and his turmoil of emotions is a wonderful counterbalance to Newallo’s stoicism. The film also features Lawkaran as well and he gives another solid performance. While I may have ditched the opening text (the more mystery the better) and the computer effects may have been limited by budget Mangroves is a gorgeous, fascinating little film. It is a proof of concept for a TV series and after seeing this short I would definitely check that out. For more from Mangroves you can check out their Facebook page here.

And for my review of TTFF 2018 People’s Choice Award Narrative Feature Film winner Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life of Mr Ulric Cross you can click here.