Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inward Hunger: The Story of Eric Williams

In September, SAVANT launched its television series, Inward Hunger:The Story of Eric Williams, with a private screening at the Central Bank Auditorium.  It went really well, with an appreciative and diverse audience.  Here's what director, Mariel Brown, had to say:

Several years ago, I was sitting with my father, the writer Wayne Brown, and discussing various documentary projects that I was interested in pursuing – one of which was on our first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams.  My father said in the end he thought Williams’ life was a tragic one.  This perplexed me.  I’ve heard many people talk about Williams, but no one ever described him as a tragic figure.  And so, it was with a great deal of curiosity and a desire to learn as much about this man that I embarked upon the documentary Inward Hunger.

Telling the full story of a man who is both deified and despised is no easy thing, and in this series of films, I have tried to paint as honest a picture of Eric Williams as possible.  He was a complex man – a brilliant and in some ways revolutionary scholar; Williams worked tirelessly for Trinidad and Tobago, led us to Independence and through the Black Power Crisis.   Initially, he believed fully in the Caribbean and its people, but,  over time, grew increasingly embittered and disillusioned. He revolutionised our education system and was the driving force behind our infrastructural development, perhaps most importatnly, the creation of Point Lisas.  Williams ewas a man of the world - a brilliant strategist and politician.  Yet, in many ways he was flawed. He was imperious and intellectually arrogant and dismissive. As he grew older, he became increasingly parranoid and withdrawn until he became a relative recluse.  A man who cared little for wealth and material possessions, Williams seemed to turn a blind eye to the corruption that was running rampant in his cabinet.  Many saw Williams as a kind of Messiah - the man who could save them.  Yet some argue that this has led to an entrenched cutlture of dependency in our society.

So you see, Williams was a man of contradicitons, and telling his story required an enormous amount of work and commitment.  It required the willingness of my sponsors, First Citizens, and Goverment Infromation Services Ltd, to go down this road with me, and my own belief that a viewing audience would appreciate and be interested in a fuller picture of the man known to us as the father of the nation.

And so, I have many people to thank for their participation in this project:

First of all, my sponsors, First Citizens, The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, and the Government Information Services Ltd. In particular, I'd like to thank Dexter Charles and Maxie Cuffie for taking the initial leap with me.

I would like to thank the two women who have worked alongside me from the very beginning of this project: Catherine Emmanuel and Alake Pilgrim. I don't know how I would have managed without you both. My parents, Megan Hopkyn-Rees and Wayne Brown, who passed on to me their tenacity, perseverance and enduring curiosity about the world.

I'd like to thank the current staff of the GISL, CEO Andy Johnson, Rodelle Phillips and Bobbi Jeffrey-Hicks.

Thanks to the Eric Williams Memorial Collection and Erica Williams Connell, for allowing us carte blanche to research and record in the Museum and the Collection, and Mrs. Williams Connell, for agreeing to be interviewed.

Thank you to the DP for this project, Sean Edgehill for his patience and beautiful work. Thank you to Nigel Scott and Albert Laveau and Catherine Emmanuel for lending their voices to the script. Thanks to Francesco Emmanuel for the moving original score, Phil and Dion at Eclipse audio and Cedric Smart who did the soundmix.

Much thanks also, to the many people at the National Archives, the National Museum, QRC and the Red House for allowing us to film there. Thank you to the Williams family members, and SAVANT supporters who helped us to source the images and audio for this project. Thank you to the Central Bank Auditorium for all their assistance. And to Richard, for his steadfast support.

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