Memories of Maria: Dominican Docs ‘By Wind and Waters’ & ‘Granny’

Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer

In September 2017 Hurricane Maria made landfall in Dominica and left utter devastation in its wake. About 90 per cent of buildings were damaged or destroyed, including the Prime Minister’s Residence. Power lines and trees were toppled, there were landslides that washed away crops. Thirty-one people died. Thankfully the country has recovered and is working to become the world’s first “hurricane-proof” country.

Director Jake “Maka” Phillips helmed two short documentary films on the impact of the deadly Category 5 hurricane on people in Dominica, By Wind and Waters and Granny.

By Wind and Waters (2018)

By Wind and Waters follows Rastafarians Ras Julie and Albert Joseph one year after Maria. The men sit in the midst of debris on a beach and display their wood carvings they intended to sell from their small restaurant to tourists that never came. “But she came and washed us out,” one of them says. They recalled the experience of the hurricane and how quickly everything happened. “By the time you hear the shout the whole area was blocked out and water was already coming in.” They recalled trying the escape the waters with their families and hearing screaming.

But a year later and both men remained hopeful. “Give thanks to Jah for life,” one says. And it is their demeanour that really stands out in the six-minute film. After suffering so much loss there is a remarkable strength and optimism. They continue to grow crops, though in a smaller area. And they take time to play some music and play football for some children. A great testament to the power of hope and the resilience of a people in the wake of disaster.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10

Granny (2018)

Granny follows an unnamed woman who recalls her childhood in the coastal village of Loubiere picking fresh fruit and bathing in the river before going to school. She laments, however, that “now is waste” and children do not have it as good as it was before. She then talks about selling fish and using the money to buy the house and land upon which she resides. The three-minute film then cuts to post-Maria and shots of Granny sitting outside her damaged home and the internal damage as well. Her situation is narrated via subtitles.

While I thought the idea for Granny was a good one and Granny herself seems very sweet I didn’t like the switch from interview to subtitles. I would have liked to have seen Granny speak about her experience and it also breaks the cardinal rule of “show don’t tell”. But it is still an enjoyable short.

Editor Jules’s Score: 5.5 out of 10

You can view By Wind and Waters by clicking here and Granny by clicking here. And you can check out more great Caribbean documentary content below:

SOULFUL WHALING DOC ‘THE WIND THAT BLOWS’ (BEQUIA, SVG)
FUTURE SOUNDS AND REFUGEE STORIES: HAITIAN DOCS ROCK AT CTFF 2018
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.