Left behind: Caribbean film shows families torn apart by migration

In the Martinican short film “Ti Coq,” it looks at the phenomenon from the perspective of a young boy being raised by his grandmother.
N.O. Photos

She tells a moving story.

A collection of short films screening in Prospect Lefferts Gardens this week will showcase the sacrifices and troubles faced by Caribbean immigrants to the United States. The four films in “The Caribbean Migrant Experience,” at Brooklyn Commons on Nov. 21, focus on the little-discussed effects of migration on Caribbean families, said the director of one of the shorts.

“We need to start having honest conversations as to how our families were impacted by decisions to move for a better life,” said Meschida Phillip. “We have success stories — and then we have stories that carry so much hurt at same time, and those are the stories we are not speaking about.”

Many Caribbean families are torn apart when a parent travels abroad in search of more opportunities, leaving their children behind. In her documentary film “Scars of our Mother’s Dreams,” Philip examines that suffering by speaking with two women who have not seen their mothers in decades.

“One of my subjects is a 29-year-old woman who hasn’t seen her mother in 22 years, and she is still waiting patiently for her even though now she doesn’t know what her mom feels like or smells like,” she said.

For another woman in the film, the gap has been more than 40 years, and the separation left her with a lot of unhealed wounds, added Philip.

“She has a lifetime of wondering and is seeking answers her parents didn’t provide and she doesn’t know how to go about searching for it,” she said.

Philip, who was left behind in Grenada with her siblings while her mother lived in the United States, said that it took years for her to understand her mother’s choice. But a long-delayed discussion helped the two women to understand each other, said Philip.

“When I sat down with my mother as an adult to discuss this, it was first time that I learned that my mom went for a vacation and ended up staying,” said Philip. “After that conversation, she was finally able to see what I was always speaking about from a different perspective.”

A discussion will follow the screening, and Philip hopes her film will be a conversation starter for the members of the Caribbean-American community.

“It’s a very emotional subject people don’t like to talk about. We think everything is fine, but if we’re honest with ourselves, the conversation needs to happen because all of our lives have been impacted by migration,” said Philip.

“The Caribbean Migrant Experience” at Brooklyn Commons (495 Flatbush Ave. between Empire Boulevard and Lefferts Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. www.caribbeanfilm.org). Nov. 21 at 6 pm. $12.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.
Weighing trauma: A still from Meschida Philip’s short film, “Scars of my Mother’s Dream,” which examines the lifelong burden of pain, children of migrating Caribbean parents carry with them. Philip’s film and three other films will play at “The Caribbean Migrant Experience” screening at Brooklyn Commons on Nov. 21.
Scars of My Mother’s Dreams

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