Mariel Brown’s ‘Smallman’ touching tale, visual triumph (Trinidad and Tobago)

Have you ever sat with someone and listened to them talk about their deceased parent? This is the basic premise of Smallman: The World My Father Made (2013), a documentary short by Trinidad and Tobago director Mariel Brown.

The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and has also been screened at The People’s Film Festival (NYC), Pan African Film Festival (Los Angeles), Black Harvest Film Festival (Chicago), and the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival (Toronto), where it won the award for best short film.

In Smallman artist Richard Mark Rawlins narrates the story of his late father, John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins; the film is based on his e-book. The narrative focus is his father’s unfulfilled dream of a military career and the visual focus is his workshop filled with fantastic models of battleships and docks, intricate miniatures of rooms and whimsical toys. There are tiny soldiers, drums, bookcases with books, suitcases and many other delightful items.

In the opening credits we see hands, presumably the narrator’s, placing documents on a wood table and it has the wondrous look of stop motion animation. The cinematography in this film is breathtaking and really takes you deep inside the magical workshop and into the elder Rawlins’ life.

The younger Rawlins’ deep voice narration is soothing and the tale of his father is at times humorous and at times tear jerking. A line about his father describing his mustache as being “of reasonable size” was a particular favorite of mine. The soundtrack is also jaunty and has a fun energy similar to Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”.

The film is an engaging look into what is ostensibly an ordinary man’s life. But Rawlins’ narration and Brown’s masterful direction show that the extraordinary can be found in the ordinary. A triumph of a film and I recommend it unreservedly.

Rating: Smallman gets 4/4 tiny soldier men.

So have you seen Smallman (I’ve included a link below if you have not or just want to watch it again)? What did you think of it? Feel free to comment below.

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Smallman: The World My Father Made is available to view on studioanansitv:


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