Caribbean Studies in Video: The Banyan Archive provides access to a unique array of cultural, historical and social content produced in the Caribbean by Caribbean people. Banyan developed out of a Trinidad & Tobago Television Workshop formed in 1974 dedicated to providing Trinidad & Tobago and the region with quality local television productions. It was the first independent television program production house in the southern Caribbean. The founders were deeply committed to developing the media, communication and film industries in Trinidad and Tobago, and productions which feature local content and themes. Exploring many formats: documentary, drama, public information, music and dance, Banyan consistently developed quality content with a distinct Caribbean voice. Banyan took advantage of trained video units throughout the Caribbean region and pioneered regional co-productions since the early 1980s to broaden and enrich the Caribbean-centric exploration of Caribbean thought and creativity.
The scope of the Archive’s more than 2,000 digital files with over 1,100 hours of edited programs and unedited footage is unparalled. The Alexander Street Press is now making this unique and invaluable archive of Caribbean culture accessible to educational institutions and libraries in streaming format for the first time. It is arguably the world’s largest digitized collection of Caribbean culture on video. Among the vast holdings are documentaries of performances of Orisha rituals in Trinidad; the Phagwa festival in Trinidad and Guyana; Junkanoo in Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Belize; La Marguerite and La Rose events in St. Lucia; and various Amerindian traditions in Guyana and Dominica. The Archive also encompasses hundreds of interviews with Caribbean artists such as writers C.L.R. James, George Lamming, and V.S. Naipaul, calypsonians Roaring Lion, Lord Kitchener, Lord Pretender, and David Rudder; visual artists Carlisle Chang, Ken Critchlow, and Christopher Cozier; and filmmakers Euzhan Palcy and Perry Hanzell.
Highlights of the Banyan Archive include:
CARIBBEAN EYE, 13 Episodes. 1992. Directed by Christopher Laird, Brude Paddington and Tony Hall. Thirteen areas of regional culture are surveyed from a Caribbean perspective. This series won the award for Best Series from the Caribbean Publishers and Broadcasting Association and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union. It was awarded a special jury prize by the Caribbean Community for its role in the Caribbean Integration Movement
EYE TO EYE – Ways of Seeing. 26 part Television series. 2010. Eye to Eye is a series of one on one conversations with people who work out of a strong sense of being Caribbean and what that means. The host is producer, Christopher Laird and among the guests are: Pat Bishop, Rubadiri Victor, Rawle Gibbons, Frances-Anne Solomon, Raviji, Kim Johnson, Pat Mohammed, Tony Hall, Raymond Ramcharitar, Sunity Maharaj, Marc Matthews, Christopher Cozier, Paul Keens-Douglas, Mungal Patasar, Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba), Ray Funk, Burton Sankerali, Lester Efebo Wilkinson, Wendell Manwarren, Georgia Popplewell, Tribute to Samantha Pierre, David Abdulah, Dennis Hall, Kumar Mahabir, Attilah Springer & Muhammad Muwakil, Errol Fabien
THE RIG. 90 minute drama – 1983. The Anglophone Caribbean's first 'made for TV movie'. Written and directed by Derek Walcott, The Rig explores the impact of the oil discoveries off the East Coast of Trinidad on the village life of the area and the society of Trinidad & Tobago in general through a story of international intrigue and local fantasy.
GAYELLE. Half hour weekly cultural magazine series - 1985 - 1992. Over 300 episodes of cultural television. Gayelle has been acclaimed at many international festivals and showings, it has served as a model for the creation of similar productions in the Caribbean, Central America and Canada and is used in television training institutes in the U.S. as an example of how exciting television can be made with simple resources.
THE DISH RAN AWAY WITH THE SPOON, One hour – 1992. Produced as part of the BBC/TVE Developing World series, Dish is a lively and entertaining sweep through the Caribbean looking at the effect of US television programming on local culture. Hosted by Gayelle hosts, Tony Hall and Errol Sitahal, Dish visits St. Lucia, Cuba and Miami. Winner of Best Video Documentary and Best Film on the Environment at Images Caraibes- Third Caribbean Film festival 1992 and Best Public Affairs Documentary at Prized Pieces, 13th Annual International Video and Film Festival of the National Black Programmers Consortium, Maryland, USA 1993
SARGASSO! A CARIBBEAN LOVE STORY directed by Michael Gilkes; produced by Michael Gilkes, University of the West Indies. Film Department, Page 2 Productions and Banyan Productions; performed by Val Cuffy, Charlene Benjamin and Rosamund Addo, 47 mins. Literature students have access to a dramatization of highlights of Jean Rhys’ classic novel .
Among the subjects featured in the collection are:
- Caribbean studies
- Black studies
- Visual Arts
- Media Studies
A title list for this collection can be found in the Appendix.