Derek – Isaac Julien – Trinidad Film Festival


Isaac Julien, centre, next to Peter Doig at the Studio Film Club, Port of Spain for his premiere of Derek as part of the Trinidad Film Festival.

Derek, in chronological order, records the work and life that stands at the foot of Derek Jarman’s humour and spirit of being an artist. The filmmaker and actress, Isaac Julien and Tilda Swinton respectively, have produced and narrated a film on his life whereby the use of language is perpetuated to give some type of palpable meaning to British audiences alone, and to their own personal relationship with him.

Through his interviews, notes and film footage, Jarman concurs that his sexuality was deeply repressed, and this facet is the undercurrent that runs through his work and is the bases of his films like, Sebastiane (1976), which had British audiences eager to peek at two men frolicking on a rock. Derek showed rare 8 film footage of the artist and his journey into a series of experimental and time lap pieces.

At the Trinidad Film festival, Trinidadian audiences were privy to a man who expressed himself as who he was, and addressed subjects as sensitive and stigmatic as homosexually, HIV and of its oppression by the British government under Margret Thatcher. Jarman believed that film could be transcribed as painting and moreover understood his limitations as a painter. Film could transcribe into layering of the motifs that surrounded his inner infatuation of the self and self representation.

Isaac Julien’s objective is to arouse the interest and importance of his work to young British artists to a man who fought for his rights in the public eye, and lived the end of his life with dignity, acceptance and of his love of being. Julien’s documentary is to acknowledge Derek Jarman as one of the most influential filmmakers in British cinema.

Isaac Julien with the mike, Chris Ofili to his right, Peter Doig, standing, Che Lovelace from his left at the Studio Film Club, Trinidad

Although of his importance as a contemporary filmmaker, Isaac Julien’s production was compounded by an overly artistic and unmemorable monologue by Tilda Swinton which couldn’t be understood as she wondered through the streets of London and at the subject’s former cottage and stone garden. Derek failed to stimulate any interest at its premiere at studio film club during the Trinidad Film Festival. Eh, what de fock she manguing we with?

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