Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mas man—A film about Peter Minshall

Debuts at Nalis
Published: February 5th, 2009

Peter Minshall

Mas Man, a film by Dalton Narine about Peter Minshall, and edited by Benedict Joseph, will be screened for the media and friends at 6:30 pm, on Tuesday February 10, in the audio-visual room at the National Library (Nalis), in Port-of-Spain. Subtitled “Peter Minshall, Trinidad Carnival Artist,” the work is about a designer’s hubris to author a new word in art to counteract the conformity and conservatism of Carnival in the 1970s. It’s about him reinventing “mas” as a cutting edge tool to enlighten spectators about the complexities of life —a bold move that, in time, influences global awareness of T&T’s principal cultural export—Carnival.

The film (1hr. 48 mins.) hems in the life and art of the designer. A tapestry woven from multiple threads that include his “masography” coursing through 26 years; his design and stage acumen (documented in the 2006 presentation, The Sacred Heart); his contribution to the artistic direction of the opening ceremonies for three Olympic Games; the Savannah stage (the mas) preparing him for the world stage (the Olympics); his set pieces of protest and entertainment provoking parallel emotions in major North American, European and Asian cities – all of these textures tying into a story line that essentially captures Minshall’s muse, his flair for costumery, as well as the enigma of a man whose main job seems to be playing evil against good amid the Bacchanalia.

Mas Man also serves as reunion for Narine, a writer and filmmaker (King Carnival Productions) and Joseph, a director at Out D' Box Solutions, a media production company. Both producers of the film, they had cut their teeth in TV production at T&T Television (TTT), Narine as an interviewer and co-host at Panorama and Carnival Tuesday events; and Joseph’s experience running the gamut from cameraman to technical producer. They also worked on documentaries at TTT during the 80s and 90s, taking Outstanding Television prizes at Caribbean Publishing and Broadcasting Association Awards and Columbus International Film Festival in the United States.

Danielle Dieffenthaller, whose Westwood Park and The Reef series define her art as groundbreaking, completes the team as project consultant. Narine interviewed 29 persons for the film, including local and foreign luminaries in the mas and the arts. Their comments serve as a narrative of the film, which took five years to complete. Narine and Joseph largely financed the film, working without pay, the T&T Film Company rescuing the pair during the last month of production when resources dried up.

Trinidad Guardian

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