Calypso Dreams, the award-winning documentary filmed entirely on location in Trinidad and Tobago, was named Number 2 "Documentary of the Year" on the Best Black Film List of 2005 compiled by internationally famous African American film critic Kam Williams.
Williams, whose syndicated list is published in more than 200 Black and African Diaspora newspapers and magazines around the world, described the movie as: "So shock full of colourful characters, so informative, and so much fun that you never want it to end .This film is Trinidad's answer to Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, only more satisfying," he said.
In continuing tribute, he saw the film as "a joyous celebration of calypso music and a belated testament to its legitimate greats. In Calypso Dreams we have a laudable effort to set the record straight about [calypso's] roots," Williams said.
Speaking to the Daily Express, California- based film-maker Geoffrey Dunn, a frequent visitor to Trinidad over the past five years, said he was extremely proud of the film's selection to the Best 10 list. "This is yet another accolade for the film, but more importantly, even more recognition for what David Rudder has aptly called the 'Mother Music' of the Caribbean. As a result of Calypso Dreams, this musical art form is generating a new international audience."
Dunn noted that in recent months, the film has been screened on four continents - at the South African Film Festival; at the Caribbean Diaspora Film Festival (in Brooklyn, New York); at both the Caribbean Showcase and Black Filmmakers Festival (in London); and at the United Nations World Cultural Forum (in Sao Paulo, Brazil).
Produced and directed by Dunn and California-based musical impresario Michael Horne, and co-produced in Trinidad by well-known composer Alvin Daniell and calypso legend Lord Superior, Calypso Dreams chronicles the history of calypso music.
The film captures dynamic acoustic performances by a host of legendary calypso performers, including Relator, Mighty Terror, Crazy, Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Superior, Duke, Black Stalin, Bomber, Brother Valentino, Gypsy, Regeneration Now, Singing Sandra, Striker, Power, Poser, Explainer, Mudada, Brother Akil, Trinidad Rio, Scrunter and Sugar Aloes.
Three years in the making, Calypso Dreams also pays homage posthumously to a number of other calypsonians, including Lord Kitchener, Lord Pretender, Warlord Blakie and Mystic Prowler.
Narrative is provided by Chalkdust, David Rudder and Brother Resistance, while Cro Cro and Denyse Plummer supply additional commentary. Archival footage of Kitchener, Bomber and Ras Shorty I and a fascinating collection of reconstructed historical photographs form part of the package.
The film is also featured in the current issue of BWIA's Caribbean Beat, in which critic Garry Steckles describes it as "a stunning landmark movie that captures, from beginning to end, the essence of calypso. A movie that gives neophytes to the music a crash course in its history, its complexity, and the characters who make it happen and at the same time, earns the admiration and respect of the most hard-to-impress calypso audience of them all - Trinidadians."
Dunn said negotiations for international distribution have advanced significantly, even though he was dealing with personal health issues for the second half of 2005. "Even so, we had to go out and do the necessary work," Dunn said. "Michael and I and the rest of the team are committed to an extensive international distribution package and all indications are that 2006 will be the year all of our dreams come true."
While his recuperation will prevent a visit to Trinidad or Carnival, Dunn assured he will be here in spirit and will show up in the flesh as soon as his health permits. Horne is however due to come for Carnival and will begin work on another cultural project. "We are both committed to advancing the culture of T&T," said Dunn. "Consider us soldiers for the cause."
Dunn advised that there will be more screenings of Calypso Dreams in Trinidad this year - perhaps even on television, given the swell of requests for the work.