Teenager’s Bermuda film is shown at United Nations HQ
A video by teen filmmaker Marquedelle Philip Rodriguez, aimed at provoking thought on consumerism and its discontents, has been warmly received by more than 800 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Following the United Nations International School Conference, where the video on the social and cultural impact of globalisation in Bermuda got shown, Mr Rodriguez now hopes he can get the piece accepted at the Bermuda International Film Festival.
“In this film, I want to give voices for those who feel they don't have a voice,” the Berkeley Institute student said. “I wanted to help Bermuda get on the map.
“I want to become many things — a film director, an actor, an animator, a musician. But my biggest goal is to help others.”
The film, ‘Bermuda Was Another World', won a contest at the 38th annual conference to be aired on the big screen in the General Assembly Hall, along with clips from China, Argentina and Switzerland.
The S4 student spent about ten days filming the four-and-a-half minute film, which combines images of supermarket products with seemingly destitute people on the street looking in shop windows, and a montage of headlines on gang violence, labour unrest and economic distress.
The 17-year-old had to stay out late on the streets of Hamilton to film it, causing some trepidation for parents Don Quedelle Philip and Margarita Rodriguez.
Some of their concern turned out to be justified: aside from attracting the curiosity of drunken revellers, Mr Rodriguez had to face down some outright hostility.
“Some people thought it was exploitation — another almost spat in my face,” he said.
Although a casual viewer might assume the two people featured in the clip to be homeless, Mr Rodriguez didn't specify who they were: “It's more for the viewer,” he explained.
“They may not be homeless. I want people to make that judgment and feel it themselves. It's more to explore the mentality of what people think this person can buy, just because of how they look.”
Along with Mr Rodriguez's own music, the video features a subversive take on Bermuda's unofficial national anthem by Hubert Smith — put into the past tense.
“I changed the lyrics a bit — I wanted to make something new from the music of before,” he said. “All credit goes to Hubert Smith.”
The vocalist for the plaintive rendition also illustrates the impact of globalisation on local culture: the singer is a janitor who prefers to remain anonymous, Mr Rodriguez said.
“His past was in the hotel business. He had gigs all across Bermuda until he got laid off because the entertainment work became redundant. The guy who is singing the song is always going to be a mystery.”
There was joy for the family when they learned the film had been well received at the UN: “My mother claimed that she was in tears — and my father was very happy.”
For Mr Rodriguez, who hails originally from the Dominican Republic, the two-day conference comparing the experienced of different nationalities proved especially rewarding.
“I feel proud to represent two countries: I represent the community of the Dominican Republic here — and I also represent my other home, Bermuda,” he said.
“The highest point in my whole experience was to hear so many people who had the same way about how they view the world.
“There were students there who had intelligence beyond intelligence. We spoke on issues from all over the world. My highest point was seeing there is more hope in this world than I would have thought was possible.”
The UNIS-UN conference ran on March 6 and March 7, bringing together “dynamic speakers who can describe how they chose to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others through a passion that they have”, according to the conference website.