I say Trini, I’m a born Barbadian, but when it comes to the occasion, I’m goin’ to fight for meh right. Yuh put in a 12 cents meat bone… Take yuh meat out of meh rice.” Lord Kitchener
The red carpet and cocktails that preceded the Tribeca premiere of CHRISSY had served its purpose. Consequently, the third showing three days later at St. Gabriel’s Church, in Brooklyn, was wrapped with different ribbon and paper – a sumptuous Bajan meal and a spacious sanctuary. It also had a black, blue and gold bow – 15 minutes of a clean comedian, Mac Fingall.
By 9:50 p.m., the rays of light that had earlier peeked through the windows had gone, and the 300 or so patrons had already had their monies worth. And then, as with any play-off basketball game, the penultimate scene of the movie, provided a highlight moment, out of left field.
CHRISSY had already exposed the stranglehold of adversity but had not received any acknowledgement. The camera comes up close and portrays celebration, radiance, joy, scorn, bitterness and hate. CHRISSY sits quietly. She had beaten the odds and converted to inner strength, the crumbs every crumb that had fallen into her lap. Now, she was about to receive the baton, at the Redemption school’s graduation ceremony. Like a stilt-woman, she stood tall humbly waving her scroll of triumph to the ad overpowered the glare and amazement of two of her suppressors – her unbelieving teachers. She did more. She faced her class, and together they ran their routine; with God’s help all things are possible.
Suddenly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, “YES… YES… YES” could be heard ebbing and flowing throughout the sanctuary of the church. Some patrons stood, others clapped, and still others sat with quiet admiration. The smile of a student had outwitted a teacher’s snooty glare, and the crowd loved it.
Clearly, the above was one differences between the screenings at Tribeca and St. Gabriel’s church. Another was the patron who came downstairs late and was seen eating a plate of rice and peas, and, the pig tails that had seasoned it.
Near the street entrance to the church, former school teacher and comedian Mac Fingall, the principal in the movie CHRISSY, was enjoying a feedback session from patrons that included some of his cousins.
“Excellent…! Well done! Great!” they all said.
Clearly, Fingall had shaken the “tree of emotions”, and compliments were now raining down on him.
“Principal, yuh does dance up, and twist up and carry on. Thank God for you. Keep the good work up.” A male shouted in clear patois.
“What did you like most about Mac in the movie?” I asked.
“Listen. I am a Guyanese and the first thing that came to my mind was: Take yuh meat out meh rice. Smart. Yuh see how dee teacher treat dee girl? Man, I went through several emotions. I cry. I say, why she don’t go and find a job and do something else? That is, the teacher. And when I saw dee other teacher stand up to he (Mac), I say wha’ happen? Give dee brudda a chance! Dee brudda knows wha’ he is saying. Man, I like dee part when he (Mac) realised wha’ was going on, did yuh see how he changed his tune? That was brilliant.”
“Mac you remind also of – help muh, your counterpart in Trinidad… ah … ah Chalkdust, Yes. You see I have been around for a long time,” said David West.
The next day I ran into Paula Macurhurin, another Guyanese, and who without any prompting said:
“My mother saw the movie. She said that it was real good. She is telling everybody about it and she plans to take her grand kids to see it on Thursday, at the Linden cinemas.”
In many ways, the showing of CHRISSY at different venues across the Tri State is akin to the mobile cinema days. Cleary, Barbadians in the Diaspora love the movie. However, the fervent expression of support and perspective of a single Guyanese for the movie cannot be ignored or taken lightly. West, Kitchener, Sparrow, et al. see Barbadians as smart. But do we?
I go further, in Kitchener’s or, the Bajan had only rice. At the end of the deal with Trini, Baje had tasty rice. By the same token, Barbados provided the actors, the setting and the plot. Marcia Weekes, a Jamaican/Barbadian, through an collaborative effort, created and produced a story capable of making a stir wherever it is shown. For that reason alone I say: Three cheers for CHRISSY and a hundred cheers for an excellent example of “the power that lay in organised Caribbean effort”.
To come: why Fingall is my choice for the next Director of Culture.