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Meet Filmmaker Mariel Brown

Trinidad and Tobago’s culture, people and history are the stars of Mariel Brown’s documentaries.

August 5, 2021
Mariel Brown
Mariel Brown celebrates the culture of the Caribbean in her award-winning films. Michele Jorsling

“In my films and in my life, I am constantly looking to show untold stories of the Caribbean,” says Trinidadian filmmaker Mariel Brown. Her documentaries, which have won four prizes at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, provide insightful portraits of her fellow islanders. She has chronicled the life of the country’s first prime minister (Inward Hunger: The Story of Eric Williams), showcased the herculean effort behind making a Carnival band (The Insatiable Season), and explored her relationship with her late father, Wayne Brown (Unfinished Sentences), a celebrated poet, author and former contributor to Yachting.

Brown also helps her fellow auteurs on Trinidad and Tobago share their stories through FilmCo, a nonprofit that serves as a unified voice for the fledgling film community. “We’re creating a space where film matters and where filmmakers are taken seriously,” Brown says. February saw the launch of FilmCo2Go, the first streaming service with all-Caribbean content.

Brown and FilmCo also now helm the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, which unspooled in virtual fashion this past year. “That made it possible to engage with more people from farther afield, which was wonderful,” she says. Look for the festival’s 16th edition this September.

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What distinguishes the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival? It’s the one festival where you can see only Caribbean content. The productions are either made by Caribbean people or about the Caribbean.

How did your father’s passion for sailing feature in your life? He was a lifelong sailor who wrote beautifully about sailing and water in his poetry. A great deal of my childhood and teen years revolved around sailing with him on his boat, Lisa. In Unfinished Sentences, the water is the continuous thread that unites all the visuals and shows how important the sea was to him.

Mariel Brown
Trinidad and Tobago’s Close-up Michele Jorsling

Mariel Brown’s Best of Trinidad

Ali’s Roti Shop (St. James): Their beef and bhagi roti is delicious. A stop at Ali’s is one of the first things I do when returning to Trinidad.

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Maracas Beach: It’s one of our prettiest beaches. I love diving in the large, rhythmic waves and having a shark-and-bake on a sunny day.

Queen’s Park Savannah (Port of Spain): I come here in the afternoons to sit, people-watch, and drink coconut water straight from the coconut.

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