To be seen, to be asked, to be encouraged, to be supported, to be trusted, all the things a young professional would hope for at the start of their career. The launch of “Yamada” on the 28th represented a promising continuation of what Michel Drenthe has been doing and what now, with the support of Prins Bernhard Funds Caribbean, can continue to be done on a much larger scale.
“Yamada” being a representation of the hidden beauty within our society has been well received so far well and I hope that many more will venture out to see it in the future.
A career in filmmaking did not come easily, but that never discouraged me, rather it pushed me towards methods where I could stay under the radar and focus on the job. The job, my job, is to find a voice, a signature, to create films that inspire, document and tell the stories of the Caribbean and the islands where I come from. Yamada was a pre-calculated film with an agenda. A positive one though, were I opt to tell personal stories to show sides of ourselves that many do not see. To see that many caught on with my intentions and understood what it was about made it a success for me. If there are some that are missing the point in this film it only indicates a necessity for more films and different point of views.
“Yamada I Yama Pa”
When Harry watched the film for the first time and heard the title, he indicated that it would not be an accurate name for the film. According to him “Yamada” would have a Spanish connotation and it should have been called “Yama Pa”. The way in which Harry thinks of the name is an example that shows the different perspectives between generations.
Both Harry and I were born and grew up on curacao. But even do the birth place connects us it is our character, our life journey, the history, education and development of the island that made us different, what I consider a strength even more than a weakness and I’ll explain why.
Oftentimes island kids are brought up in a disciplinary manner, forced to be silent in the name of having respect, Si jufrouw/No Meneer”. Even though I highly appreciate the norms and values given to me at school, I do see the downside of things not being in balance. Kids are not encouraged to speak their mind; in fact, they are more inclined to be punished when they do this. Being curious and asking too many questions was also not stimulated, which results in many young adults learning the skill to adequately speak their mind only at an older age. Of course you have some that are born with a gift, an urgency and will. These individuals can be categorized as having a calling. Harry is one of them and with his knowledge, will and curiosity that he expressed he made Serenada happen (among other things), but also beyond that.
From an early age I too had a will to make films. The fact that I was able to partner up with Michel an experienced producer and that I could experience Harry and Grupo Serenada and use a small portion of his knowledge is an example of what the “old and the wise in combination with the new can bring”. Old and young will always remain different and find something of one another. But the doors must be opened up for more collaboration between old and young cause like harry stated in the film it has been a long time since 30 di mei and I too need to be honest that there is plenty catching up to do. “Yamada” is a manifestation of a generational collaboration. That in this day and age is something we need to aspire to do more often seeing such a uge gap of “nothingness”. Many of these exceptional individuals like harry are of an older generation and even though they have the knowledge and experience their work can only continue to live on and be further developed in collaboration with young individuals who also feel a certain urgency and have a will. I hope to just as Harry is telling stories through music I may keep making film immortalizing our culture, our people.
I see myself on screen
We don’t see ourselves enough, reflections and representation of our community can rarely be seen on a big screen, our stories are poorly documented and not accessible. As a documentary maker archive material is very important and opens the door for me to tell and retell, re-imagining many stories that represent us and introduces us to the global world today. But many institutions do not realize this and stick to old conventions of keeping the untouched archive behind locked doors or consider it junk that has no value.
Yamada shows a small example of how archive can be used to show the time and space we curasoleans have live through, shows our history and immortalizes the hard work of harry Moen and other members of Grupo Serenada. It’s important to give artist access to archive to revisit what we have done, to understand ourselves and to help us become better people!
Esei ta parti di bida
We are not perfect, but we can aspire to be better versions of ourselves. But, its fruitful to show the high and lows, the hard work, the disappointment, the behind the scenes of things. Often times we glorify or batcher what we see on the outside without knowing or caring what is happening on the inside. There are always more sides to the story and things are always evolving. Showing skin, “hanging your dirty laundry” and to do it in a respectful matter can help us identify with each other and encourage validity to our societies. As you go through things I might be too. The human aspects like emotions, friendship, family, love and dead we all experience beyond for instance nationality, religion and culture. We all have things we can identify with and in Yamada I opt to give the human aspect a more important role to create understanding and grow appreciation for our treasures from the audience, but also remaining close to the musicality and richness grupo serendada has provided us all these years.
Small Island, Big World Challenge
After my first version I was told I should explain the audience where they are, the context of what they are seeing. That it’s taking place on Curacao, an island in the Caribbean. If I look back oftentimes we have a handicap that tells us we should explain too much. After “Yamada” I am challenged to present and represent the island in unique ways to an international audience without having to explain this literally.
Hard work pays off
Mentioned by Arlette in the film but she has a very good point. In todays global world everything is very flashy and fast. To reach to a good result it takes time and hard work and in Yamada’s case also teamwork. On Michel’s initiative I came with the story and its because of Michel’s , Robin’s (and team) assistance I was able to start it’s because of Pim Gelevert the editor that I could formulate my vision more clearer and the film could reach its full potential, its because of Stevenson Lacroes the details could have been added that enhances the experience of the viewer. I made a film on how I saw Serenada and the context they are in today. Another filmmaker would have made it differently and that is only to encourage. More films, more stories from different perspectives in their own ways. We are a community with allot of talent and having a “stage” alone would not be sufficient without the makers that will fill the space. Appreciation needs to be fostered for the makers to truly be given the opportunity to show and their magic to reach its community to its full potential.
I am and always be in the making and everything that I make was intentional with the awareness and that the unintended will lurk behind ready to appear ones its starts interacting with a broader audience. I will work for many more to come as I love doing this. My work is a work in Progress.
I thank Michel Drenthe and crew for the opportunity, I thank Grupo serenade for the trust, and wish the audience veel kijk plezier.
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