By Bruce Paddington,
Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution, a feature length documentary on the Grenada Revolution of 1979-1983, directed and produced by Bruce Paddington, has recently held three screenings in Grenada. These were held over the weekend of the 30th anniversary of the killings of then prime minister Maurice Bishop and his close colleagues. These screenings followed the success of the four sold out screenings of the film during the trinidad + tobago film festival.
The first screening for families and friends of the victims was held at Coyaba Hotel on Friday and was also attended by the Cuban and Venezuelan ambassadors and the Governor General of Grenada, Cecile de la Grenade. The film screening on Saturday, the actual anniversary of the killings, was held at Fort George (previously Fort Rupert) and was preceded by a memorial service for the martyrs of October 19. Families of the victims laid flowers at the very spot where the killings took place. Following the service, the fort became the setting for the screening of a film that focuses on the tragic events of October 19, 1983 and its aftermath.
Persons who had been interviewed for the film watched the proceedings on a big screen, erected against the very wall that still bears evidence of the bullet holes from the firing squad. Ann Bain was there; her husband Norris Bain was killed that day thirty years ago, along with Pamela Cherebin, whose father Evelyn Bullen was also in the executioner’s line up. One can only imagine the emotions they must have felt as they viewed themselves testifying in the film and as they witnessed archive material from the period and listened with disbelief to the excuses of those who pulled the trigger and/or gave the orders for the execution.
Each year the families of the victims attend the service at the fort hoping to hear that one day the bodies of their loved ones have been found so they can bury their dead with dignity and bring some closure to the event. The proceedings came to a close at almost ten ‘o’ clock, after six hours of the memorial service for the martyrs and the screening of the film that bore witness to the often painful memory of the events of October 19. This was a sad and poignant screening as the audience viewed the film under a full moon, with threat of rain, as the gods held back their tears.
The final screening was held at the Reno Cinema (previously known as the Regal) in St Georges. This cinema has known better days, with no air-condition and doesn’t function as a cinema again. However, it holds over 500 persons and the cinema was packed for the Sunday screening of the film. All the screenings were free of charge to the public but the large turn out proved that people do want to see themselves and their stories on film and on television. The audience actively participated in the screening as they cheered, laughed, applauded and at time shouted in anger as the story unfolded. The film was followed by a lively question and answer session as members of the audience testified to their involvement in the revolution and especially their movements on October 19, 1983. There were calls for a Part 2 to be made as well as for a DVD release and community screenings to be held throughout Grenada and the Grenadian Diaspora in North America and England.
The film was made with the support of the University of the West Indies, Flow (Columbus Communications), The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, The Fundashon Bon Intenshon as well as with the passion of the dedicated filmmakers Luke Paddington, Princess Donelan and Oliver Milne. The screenings in Grenada enabled the film to be symbolically returned to the people of Grenada and the film is now part of the documentation of this important event in the history of the Caribbean. Hopefully, it will also lead to some form of reconciliation and greater understanding, as the truth shall set one free.
The next screening of the film in Trinidad with be tomorrow at the OWTU Headquarters in San Fernando at 7 p.m. and will be free of charge.