The Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival (GIIFF) is the only living cultural film festival in the United States that is founded and produced by a Garifuna Belizean woman, Freda Sideroff. And last night in the premiering and screening of yours truly’s documentary film on the Belize gang crisis called, “Abdul Marin Nunez and the Belize Gang Crisis”, it was revealed to me in some of the most moving and spiritual ways, the passionate work that goes into this annual visual arts masterpiece.
Film festivals like this are a medium through which the visual artist protests and resists against all forms of oppression so as to bring the struggle of a people and cause to the forefront of an audience who may not necessarily know. It provides a humble outlet of expression to the voiceless and the marginalized peoples of the world who cannot find a place in the mainstream media. It is service to the underserved of a nation. It is a powerful non-violent weapon for the cultural and political activist.
So in this photo essay, it is just a small gesture of respect and love for you, the Belizean Legends audience, that these images come to show those of you who could not be there to see this touching story unfold on the silver screen about Belize City’s raging gang war.
It earned me the “Jury Choice Award” at the film festival and it is most important to say that the story of the black-on-black crime in Belize City, Belize today must be told. It is the Belizean black youth, therefore, and their grieving mothers (Creole and Garifuna) that have earned this through their blood, sweat and tears. We honor them for their courage and loss.
Though for many of us Belizeans, it is hard to come and see this kind of troubling and sad state of affairs unfolding in our country. But it is very much understood how we all feel so deeply about it and that most Belizeans truly care.
Thanks to the beautiful and passionate multicultural audience that came out to see the films about the resistance of the Garinagu despite all the centuries of imperialism that have been inflicted upon them. Thanks to Sista Freda Sideroff for inviting me to participate and to use her most distinguished film festival to express my yearning for peace and love in Belize among all Belizean peoples.
And in deep respect for this awesome African and indigenous culture in Central America and the Caribbean, it is most appropriate for me to call out to the ancestors and the Most High in times like these in the native Garifuna language: “Watina!”