May 29, 2016 News
Guyanese film-maker Mahadeo Shivraj has complained that he suffered rejection from the government for the screening of his film, which was set to be released for Guyana’s 50th Golden Jubilee Celebration.
The movie, Protection Game, which commemorates Guyana’s Independence and addresses racial issues of cohesion, was allegedly rejected by various Government ministries, especially the Ministry of Culture, which main function is the promotion of Guyanese culture and arts.
Shivraj told Kaieteur News that the first persons he had written to concerning the production of the film were President David Granger, Minister of Education Rupert Roopnaraine and Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes.
“Unfortunately, after a 100-plus emails and other attempts to contact the ministers involved and other dignitaries I am yet to get a reply. Though very disappointed that a project of this magnitude was welcomed but now not being given the chance to be screened for this occasion, I am now left with the only option of trying to get it screened otherwise,” he said.
He stated that he first contacted President Granger indicating his decision to make the movie to celebrate the 50th Independence Anniversary and to also make a video to precede the movie which he hopes will encourage racial unity.
The president, he noted, responded three months later to say that he will pass the letter onto Minister of Culture, Nicolette Henry. Shivraj recalled meeting with the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, with Hughes and Roopnaraine to discuss the movie and how best they could lend support.
He said he asked them to endorse the project so that it can spread throughout the Diaspora and help to create a film industry. “I indicated that it was necessary for our government to be proud of what is done its citizens,” he said, adding that it is the people of a country who are the true ambassadors.
He stressed that he had also indicated that the project would serve as an excellent tool for tourism and that the video would encourage racial unity while encouraging Guyanese abroad to return home.
He said the ministers promised their support and to have the film be a part of the celebrations when it is completed. But, when he returned to Guyana he was given the royal run-around. He said Hughes had not responded to any of his emails, and though he visited her office several times he was denied a conversation with her.
Roopnaraine, he said, continued to shower him with promises but never came through. He said that he had also written to him on several occasions but never received a reply.
Shivraj emphasized further that he never received any response from Culture Minister Henry.
“Just to clarify: I never asked for any money to make my movie. I wrote ten big companies in Guyana and I was turned down by all. I used my own money hoping that people who promised to showcase my movie would do so. Imagine, the President can reply but they can’t,” he chided.
“I regret that Guyanese at home and the ones visiting from the Diaspora could not have seen a product of Guyana made by Guyanese for the specific occasion of the 50th Jubilee Celebration and showcasing our Guyanese actors and our Guyana. What a pity. Instead the movie will be screened now in another country—what a shame,” he argued.
He stated that it appears as though the “words of the people in office to the citizens who employed them have no significance”.
Shivraj had tried to screen the film at the National Cultural Centre but was told that it was already booked out for the year. He said, too, that it was a challenge to get the two cinemas in Guyana to air the movie.
Protection Game is his sixth film. Till I Find a Place and Brown Sugar too bitter for me are two of his best films so far.
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