Pan! Our Music Odyssey Review (7 Days of Cariwood Pt 1/7)

Julien Neaves – Editor

On March 28 the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (ttff) gave Caribbean viewers an isolation gift with #WatchaMovieOnUs:  Online Screening Series – 14 films shown over 14 days, each for 24 hours, on its website. Now as you would see in the RMR About section, one of the goals of this site is to promote Caribbean film, or “Cariwood” as I call it.

So ttff has inspired me to do my own review series, 7 Days of Cariwood, which will be a mix of the Online Screening Series films and other Caribbean films. And I will be kicking it off with the film that is available right now through the ttff website (provided you are reading this April 2 and live in the Caribbean) Pan! Our Music Odyssey. 

Play on young man. Play on

Pan! is a 2014 Trinidad and Tobago documentary about the steelpan (the only acoustic musical instrument developed in the 20th century) written by pan researcher Kim Johnson and directed by Jérôme Guiot and Thierry Theston. The film is made up of two main parts: an almost mythical drama of two brothers and a steelband in the 1940s and the rivalry and violence of that time; and a traditional documentary-style part set in 2013 tracking a young local steelpan player and two foreigners as they dream of playing in the country’s major steelband competition – Panorama.

Wha happen? You eh see I tryin’ to play some pan here or what?

The 1940s drama features excellent costuming and strong performances by some of TT’s best actors including Red Frederick (The Hike, Girlfriends Getaway) Nickolai Salcedo (Hero, Moving Parts), Penelope Spencer (Grace and Saleem, Play The Devil), and Conrad Parris (The Cutlass, Moving Parts). The modern documentary part includes interviews with pan icons like Ray Holman and Len “Boogsie” Sharpe as well as Johnson himself, and takes viewers from the intimate panyards to the Panorama “Big Stage” in the Queen’s Park Savannah. The passion of the local and foreign pan players is also quite palpable and entertaining. Both aspects of the film are tied together by some excellent narration by Paul Bandey and a sweet steelpan soundtrack, with a couple of soca and calypso songs thrown in for good measure. Pan! really should be required viewing for every Trinidadian or anyone with even a passing interest in the instrument.

Score: 9/10 

For my review of the Trinidad and Tobago documentary Calypso Dreams you can click here. And for more on the ttff Online Screening Series you can click here

Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. Also loves promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and is an aspiring author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.

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