Dutch Caribbean film/video artist to teach film course at USM

POSTED: 11/25/14 10:03 PM

St. Maarten – “It’s something magical… you’re capturing something. Films can create an illusion or drag you out of your own world. Once you relate to a character or story, you live it through this window. It can offer you an escape, or it can be a wake-up call because films bring you different perspectives and open your horizon,” said Dutch Caribbean film/video artist Sharelly Emanuelson, who will be teaching a Caribbean films course at the University of St. Martin in the spring semester of 2015. Emanuelson will teach students about the history and theory of films, as well as the techniques used to create films. Students will view different films and learn about different movements in film, such as Third Cinema and Caribbean and diaspora filmmaking. Third Cinema is an aesthetic and political project used by filmmakers in Africa, Asia and Latin America that questions and challenges structures of power, especially that of colonialism.

Through this course, Emanuelson hopes to achieve dialogue about film and, at the same time, get to know the stories of St. Maarten and the stories of the people of St. Maarten. Through this dialogue, she hopes to discuss with students the techniques, methodologies and points of view used to document these stories. Next to the theory-based component of the course, Emanuelson would like to incorporate a practical project, where students create their own mini-films with the information they have acquired throughout the course. Despite the lack of professional equipment available to students, she said that with the advances in technology, it is still possible to create a film using devices, such as digital cameras and smartphones, which students use in their daily lives. “It’s about the story you want to tell. If a student comes with the idea for a story, and then goes into dialogue about the history and techniques of filmmaking, that student can then work with that information and experiment with that knowledge to make a film, ” said the Dutch Caribbean film/video artist.

For us in the Dutch Caribbean, Emanuelson explained, it is important to be aware of how the media, the relevance of the media and the representation it projects throughout the world, impacts us. “Filmmaking is a powerful medium that can contribute or be very dangerous. I think that because in the Caribbean we are exposed to so many international flows of media, such as Hollywood, this is all we know. Most of the time, our own stories are not being documented. They do not become books or films.” Emanuelson went on to say that she missed seeing herself, reflections of herself, and her culture in these films, which is why she decided to make films her own.

Emanuelson pointed out that it is important to document one’s own story and history, as it is then told from the perspective of the person in that place. “In the Caribbean, we have experienced people coming from abroad making films. But what does it mean for us to make our own films and create our own history, rather than others doing it for us?” Through this course, Emanuelson hopes to share the knowledge she has gained over the years with USM students. She hopes to not only create dialogue, but to also produce, which is what she believes is missing in the Dutch Caribbean: “We have to document and produce ourselves.”

When asked by this newspaper about what she tries to achieve through her films, Emanuelson responded, “My first priority is to tell important and valuable stories.” Her second priority is to educate herself: “I learn so much with each project. While making films, I am learning.” She went on to say that in order to make a film, the story behind the film has to be something that interests her and that this story is one that needs to be told and shared with others.

Born and raised on the island of Curacao, Emanuelson grew up watching films. Having an Aruban mother and father who was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, has contributed to her multiple identities and her familiarity with the different cultures and regions of the Caribbean. After high school, Emanuelson left her native Curacao to study film in the Netherlands. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Audiovisual Media with a specialization in documentary making from the School of Arts in Utrecht. In 2010, she started her own company as a freelancer, but felt the need to explore a bit more.

Emanuelson felt that there wasn’t enough room to experiment with the documentary being made at the time and tell the story the way she wanted to, so she decided to pursue a master’s degree. In July of this year, Emanuelson received her M.A. in Artistic Research from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Her latest creative project “Doh Mix Me Up: We Always Negotiatin” documents the Calypso art form, which, as Emanuelson explained, is changing because of international influences from other musical genres, such as dance, trance and dancehall. The documentary debuted at Oxford University in England.

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