Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Plot: In the fictional Caribbean country of St Mark a prime minister battles enemies both within and without.
Review: I reviewed an Antiguan film last week for Cariwood Wednesdays (celebrated every Wednesday on our Facebook page) so I thought I would continue with another Antiguan feature for this article. And No Seed (2002) was a pretty good find.
The film, directed by Antiguan filmmaker Howard Allen and produced by his studio HAMA Productions, tells the story of Prime Minister Grace Valentine (Heather Dorman) of St Mark. When young people begin mysteriously falling ill under her administration it sets out a series of events that lead to corruption, blackmail, backstabbing, obeah and murder. I really can’t say any more without getting into spoiler territory so I will leave it at that.
No Seed had me invested throughout this tale of political twists and turns. The film is not a big-budget affair and it is mostly people sitting and talking, but it is a credit to the solid writing and strong performances that it never gets boring. On the contrary, I kept waiting to see what was the next crazy twist or revelation. Of the performances Dorman, Bernard Nichols as the prime minister’s friend and political advisor Nigel/Mongrel (that name needed a back story by the way), and Stephen Watt as businessman Hartford Mercer are the strongest, but everyone here shows up. And I found the whole set-up of a behind-the-scenes look at Caribbean political machinations utterly fascinating.
The film’s title refers to the Antiguan game of Warri which is the main metaphor in the film (the strategy of the Ancient African board game reflects the strategy of the political “game” onscreen). Before watching the movie I had never heard of Warri (I didn’t even know what the game was called while watching it) and I had no idea what was happening while they played, but it looked very interesting. As a lover of board games myself (haven’t you read my bio?) I would love to learn how to play it. Besides being a good promotional film for Warri, No Seed also does some promotion of Antigua (it exists as a separate country in-film) by showcasing the serene scenes of a boating festival. I presume Allen decided to set the film on a fictional country rather than Antigua because of all the devious things this government gets up to.
The film does have its flaws. The steelpan soundtrack does get repetitive and at times is incongruous to the dark deeds taking place. There are also a couple of subplots that go on a bit too long and ultimately lead nowhere. And I thought the ending left too many loose ends untied. But overall a very good job from all involved and in terms of content it is definitely one of the most unique Caribbean films I have ever seen. Now if you will excuse me, I need to check Amazon to see if can I purchase a Warri board.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10
You can watch No Seed for yourself on the Caribbean One TV app. And you can check out more great Cariwood content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” 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. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.