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Sins of the fathers haunt Sanskara

Published: 
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Sanskara director Christopher Din Chong. Photos courtesy Rohan Ramgarib/ Impressions Studio

The psychological thriller Sanskara, from T&T production company 3 Line Studios, tells the story of an ongoing war between a family of assassins and a crime family. Set in T&T, the story is told through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, played by Kristof West, who is adopted by the assassins. 

The film is one of four T&T dramatic features in this year’s T&T Film Festival, the others being Nicholas Attin’s Tomb, Darisha Beresford’s The Cutlass, and Maria Govan’s Play the Devil.

Sanskara’s writer and director Christopher Din Chong and producer Mikkell Khan said the movie is an exaggerated version of T&T society as they see it. The duo said they want the film to be entertaining as well as having a social impact—without being pretentious. 

Din Chong said the name is based on the Hindu belief that our present existence and all related experiences of pain, pleasure, temperance and sin are the result of our past. Din Chong said they were dealing with the cyclical patterns that come up with regards to crime, drug abuse and broken homes. 

“It was easier to portray it through the eyes of a child so that we could look at touchy subjects, because the child is only trying to actualise or realise what the parents are doing through his eyes and he’ll have a justification for what his parents do, because they’re his parents,” Khan said.

Din Chong said they tried to make the insane and sadistic appear normal. “With regards to the aesthetic, the choice of camera lenses and the shots all complemented the voyeuristic approach, the way we're looking at this seedy world through the eyes of a 12 year old. 

“Even (in) the use of colour and props, we tried to make sure the clothing would match the mood of the boy, so if he was in a sombre mood, he’d be in blue, etc. Throughout most of the movie, it’s these warm pastel colours and then when the mother loses it, you see a red wall and you see her in red, so we tried to get those simple things across in the film.”

Having both studied film at UWI, St Augustine, the duo is interested to see the things they learned actually do work in making a movie. They’re also proud to have been invited to the T&T Film Festival, where they are competing for Best T&T Feature Film. They also hope to inspire up-and-coming filmmakers. 

“Our foundation, the Forward Ever Foundation, is working on a project right now called Making Cinema, which is movie-making with the bare essentials, because in Trinidad we don't have infrastructure, we wear multiple hats, financing is always an issue. 

“It's teaching documentary (filmmaking), as well as a workshop where we'll be going through what it is to make a film in Trinidad, the struggle, the blood, the sweat, the headache. It's really painful to make a show here with the lack of infrastructure, having to make your own equipment, etc. But once you get the shot and it works and moves you, do you care whether it was (shot using) a PVC (dolly track) or if it was on proper rubber tubing? You don’t.”

They hope the film will start a conversation after people watch it. Khan said, “It'll be a little bit harder for society to swallow because it's like we're holding up a mirror. After people see this film, they're going to have to look intrinsically in themselves and then ask, ‘What can I do to change this?’ 

“I believe it has to do with what your contribution to society, whether good or bad, and if it touches on your emotions, maybe you have to start to look inward.”

The duo said they want young people to be able to see the film, because they realised that children will do what their parents do, not what they say. 

Din Chong said, “That's what the movie is about. (The child’s) moral compass is a bit screwed because it's assassins and they say we only kill those who hurt Mom and hurt us in the past—that's an iconic line from the dad character.

“So now he has to figure out right from wrong and realise that maybe Mom and Dad weren't right all along, and he starts to think for himself and there is where we would like the audience to start thinking as well.”

They also said they have given the film to universities abroad to be studied, as well as having a criminologist at UWI take a look at it. 

“Each shot in the film was made for a purpose, it was there for a reason, and we're open to discussion of what would you interpret from it. You tell me how it made you feel or staring in that mirror. Did you squirm in your seat, did you laugh? It says a lot about you. 

“Film is supposed to be that device, that vehicle used for conversation, for betterment, so the underclass and all those who won’t really normally have a voice get to say something.”

The film, which stars well-known actors Kurtis Gross, Conrad Parris, Ruby Parris and Che Rodriguez, will premiere on September 21 at MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, as part of the T&T Film Festival.

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