Carnival of humanity

Peter Minshall employs the traditional Carnival art of wire-bending to craft headpieces for his 1993 presentation, “Donkey Derby.”
Photos courtesy of Callaloo Co.
Photo courtesy of Callaloo Co./Mark Lyndersay

It is the only film about a man from a tiny Caribbean island who reached 80 percent of the planet in a single night. And it premieres at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Art of Brooklyn Film Festival (Aug. 4-12), St. Francis College, downtown Brooklyn.

“Mas Man – The Complete Work,” produced and directed by Dalton James Narine, explores Peter Minshall’s leap from designer in the Trinidad Carnival to an artistic director of the opening ceremonies for three Olympics games, based on his knack for “making what is small seem big in the open space of an Olympic stadium,” according to Hollywood producer Don Mischer, who worked with Minshall in the Atlanta and Salt Lake City Games in 1996 and 2002, respectively.

Minshall also served as an artistic director for the 1992 Barcelona Games, where he pioneered nighttime opening ceremonies, and was the first director to develop a story around the host country’s culture.

Olympic producers found Minshall’s genius for staging grand spectacles in the Trinidad Carnival, where his themes usually play on good and evil. The inclination for his largely abstract portrayals is to remind audiences about man’s incompleteness. Who we were, what we’ve become and why we haven’t changed. His overarching theme is The Seven Deadly Sins, and his stage is “the Mas,” which he brings to the streets as theatre way beyond the horizon of masquerade.

“A designer chooses the two dominant characters on earth,” Narine says, “and dresses them up in costumes year after year so people can watch themselves from an ant’s-eye, polychromatic view to see who’s winning, even though they know how it always turns out – and there’s the rub.”

A visual example of Minshall’s message as well as a synopsis and photo gallery are available at www.masmanthemovie.com

The reconceived and reconfigured “Mas Man – The Complete Work” (89 min.) is the final cut of “Mas Man” (58 min.), the short documentary that won eight awards. As a work in progress, it received honors at festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chagrin Falls and Columbus, Ohio; South Africa, Indonesia and Trinidad and Tobago. A rough cut (58 min.) had screenings in 2010 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and Gramercy Park Historic District.

Born in Trinidad, Narine migrated to Brooklyn in his late teens. He wrote for the Village Voice while still a student at Brooklyn College and New York University. Narine became associate editor for Ebony magazine, an editor at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and a features editor/writer at The Miami Herald. He won writing awards at Ebony and The Herald. His cinematic focus has been largely on Caribbean art and cultural traditions.

Narine is a decorated veteran of the American war in Vietnam.

Independent filmmaker Dalton Narine.
Photo courtesy of Callaloo Co.

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