By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
BAHAMIAN filmmaker Travolta Cooper is celebrating another milestone in his career after his film “The Black Moses” lands a distribution contract at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
The film, which deals with the life and times of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, was entered in the “Marche du Film”, the business counterpart of the Cannes Film Festival and one of the largest film markets in the world.
Mr Cooper said he is overwhelmed by the success of “The Black Moses”.
“We did not want to enter a lot of festivals because many movies get lost in film festival culture today and never see the light of distribution. This was also key to marketing ‘The Black Moses’, which needs a sense of mystery as it goes into the market. In essence, the less people know about the film, the better. The goal was always world distribution, and after closing the Bahamas International Film Festival that is really all we sought. In fact, we got inquiries from distributors even after BIFF. We ended up narrowing it down to three that expressed interest at Cannes and in the end we went with Diversity Entertainment, which is a distributor out of the US. ‘The Black Moses’ is their first film and represents the type of risky movies they wanted to represent. Diversity also had the better plan for our local investors,” he told Tribune Arts and Entertainment.
“The Black Moses” follows Sir Lynden, known as the “Father of the Nation”, as he sets out on a course to bring about social, political and economic revolution to the British Bahama Islands.
In his documetary film, Travolta takes a look at the popular “Moses mythology’ as it was manifested through the life of Sir Lynden.
Travolta said his film getting a distribution deal at Cannes holds major significance for him as a Bahamian filmmaker.
“We have never seen it quite like this before. A Bahamian film with a Hollywood movie star is opening theatrically in Los Angeles and New York at the same time it’s opening in Nassau, Freeport and throughout the island. There’s nothing on record like this,” he said.
“We’re also in talks with Atlanta and Miami to open there as well October 10. The closest the Bahamas has come to this kind of opening were the Sidney Poitier movies of the 60s and 70s, and ‘The Black Moses’, for the most part, is a documentary. I think that’s encouraging and remarkable, don’t you?
“I am genuinely humbled by it all. We did not imagine it would be this big. I began this film on a small grant I got from The Cable Cares Foundation. And today it stars Dennis Haysbert and is opening in Los Angeles? Impossible. Unbelievable. There are no words to describe what this means for me,” he said.
Travolta said he is certain this development will have have a long-term impact on the local film industry.
“It holds the promise of a sustainable film industry in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Once one Bahamian can do it, then all can. What we have now in the Bahamas and the Caribbean is a film festival culture; an awards culture. Event movies that play one or two nights and that is it; ‘one-night stands’,” he said.
“ ‘The Black Moses’ is getting a theatrical run for an entire week, and the success of that week determines whether or not it plays for another week, and so forth and so on. Chris Mortimer and Felton Capron (of Galleria Cinemas) believed in the success of the film early on and this is why the company brought me on board as a brand ambassador for the theatre chain. Both believe its time to Bahamianise the theatre chain. But that same holds true for all our local industries. Why can’t we have movies that win awards and open and do well at the multiplexes?”
After ‘The Black Moses’ leaves theatres it will go directly On Demand. He said there are a few TV networks, both local and international, that are showing interest in picking up the film as well.
“There is a company in Los Angeles that wants to see two more ‘Black Moses’ films made. I am already developing the next story. But at the moment I am preparing for my next doc-narrative. That goes into production in November,” he said.