The subject of contemporary migrant identity, where do you call ‘home’ and where do you feel you ‘belong’, is something that as a migrant from Trinidad to the UK I’ve often thought about. For people who travel back and forth between places, how do we define ourselves? If after spending much of your lifetime living in another country you still say I’m a Trinidadian or Nigerian, or Canadian, or Pakistani etc., what does that mean?
Migration and identity are massive subjects (I’m talking about voluntary migration) and I was looking for a way in; a way of talking about identity that felt personal. As a filmmaker working in a visual medium, I wanted to make a film that had a poetic engagement with the subject, was visually exciting and that felt fresh and relevant.
Rather than make a film that was didactic and put forward a closed thesis, I preferred to present Dreams in Transit as a reflection on some of the questions that come up. Seeing it as a reflection allowed me to have a more fractured, hybrid approach to the form: to mix interviews, actuality, poetry, narration and fiction (in the form of the ‘dream woman’). I use a first-person narrative, which makes it a personal film, but I decided to have it voiced by an actor, Martina Laird (herself a London-based Trinidadian) as a way of opening it up to others to write themselves in, as it were. I hope that this film can contribute to a wider conversation and I hope it does so in a poetic way.
Dreams in Transit premiered at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival in September 2015. It had two packed out screenings in the 250-seat cinema in MovieTowne in Port-of-Spain and had a great reception. Austin Fido wrote an article about the film and the issues it raises in The Trinidad Guardian. And respected blogger Martin Daly (former Trinidadian Senator) said some nice things about it in his blog "Wired 868" (scroll down a bit).
There was a full-house for a screening of “Dreams.. “ at Autograph in Shoreditch, London, in September 2016 which included a Q&A between Karen Martinez and moving image curator Karen Alexander.
“Dreams in Transit” also screened at the Zanzibar International Film Festival 2016. And more recently it showed at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival in Toronto, 2016, where it won the “Caribbean Spirit” Award!
It showed at the Rapport Festival Brixton in June 2017, the Migrant Connection Festival 2017, the Timehri Film Festival in Guyana in June 2017, and the Women of the Lens Festival 2017 in London in November. It is part of the Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase and showed recently in Havana.
The film was recently bought by Colorado State University for their “Semester at Sea” programme.