Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Arts & Culture

The Bahamas Film Culture Project (BFCP)

Erica mortimers_cargo-publicity_still-h_2019

Cargo (Kareem Mortimer, 2017)

The Bahamas Film Culture Project (BFCP) was developed from an AHRI REACH Space pop-up project in 2019, and was launched in 2020 by Monique Toppin (University of the Bahamas) and Erica Carter (King’s College London). Monique is a specialist in Bahamas cinema and cultural memory. Erica is a film studies academic working on postcolonial film and cinema history. The BFPC is a joint outreach project designed to connect our research to ongoing work by filmmakers and other creatives as well as writers, students, educators and researchers.

Originally designed as a series of screenings and live workshops on underwater film and Bahamian senses of place, the project moved online after the first Covid lockdown in spring 2020. Our new platform is the Bahamas Film Culture Project website, currently under development by visual artist and King’s PhD student Sonal Kantaria. The site is scheduled for launch in autumn/winter 2021. Its functions have developed organically through emerging collaborations since 2020. The site now has a threefold function as:

  • a participatory archive of Bahamas film and cinema history;
  • a resource for cinematic histories of colonial and postcolonial belonging;
  • a moving image window onto sustainable Bahamas futures.

We are working on the site with colleagues and students in London and Nassau. The current special emphasis on cinema history and underwater film reflects our own research interests in Bahamian cinema heritage and memory (Monique) and ecological sustainability (Erica). But as a living archive, the project also grows and shapeshifts with each new collaboration. It will remain open to further contributions until Spring 2022, and is designed to provide a resource base for future curatorial, educational and research projects on Bahamian cinema and moving image.

 

Current blog posts, videos and images cover four areas.

Our filmmakers and stars pages share stories of the filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals shaping Bahamas film culture. The Bahamas has been a filmmaking destination ever since pioneer underwater cinematographer John Ernest Williamson shot the first underwater film, a version of which, In the Tropical Seas (1914), is available on the website. Bahamian filmmakers who have since shaped international film culture include vaudeville entertainer Bert Williams, jazz and gospel singer and Bahamian-Danish star Etta Cameron, and Hollywood director-star Sidney Poitier. They feature on the BFCP site alongside contemporary independent, documentary, and environmental film practitioners including Maria Govan, Kareem Mortimer, and Lavado Stubbs.

Our cinema history and memory page is the main platform for BFCP in-house research. Monique’s oral history of cinema in the postwar Bahamas explores how memories inform a social history of the cinema and provide insights into everyday lives in the postwar Bahamas. Erica’s research considers the place of early Bahamas underwater films as instruments for new perspectives on sustainable ocean futures. Preliminary findings were presented in a joint paper at the 2020 Orphan Film symposium Water, Climate, Migration. The presentation led to a collaboration on website content with the Thanhouser Corporation and discussions are underway for further research by undergraduate students within the University of London.

Further pages on organisations and resources situate our work within the film production, festival and educational landscape of Bahamas film culture, and provide links and resources for further research.

 

The project remains ongoing throughout 2021, with an official website launch scheduled for autumn/winter. It has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Modern Languages Research Initiatives Fund at King’s College London.

Erica Etta Cameron

Bahamian-Danish star Etta Cameron (Alamy) 

Project status: Ongoing

Principal investigators

maxresdefault

Professor Erica Carter

Professor of German and Film

Monique Toppin

Assistant Professor in Journalism & Communication, University of the Bahamas

Keywords

  • Bahamas_film_and_cinema_history