TTFC Supports Trini Style Fine Tooning

At Piarco Airport in Trini toonland, a bored Immigration officer casts heavy eyebrows over a weighty volume on ‘The Art of Stamping’. An annoying flying insect interrupts him, proffering a passport from ‘The Republic of Stagnant Water’, whose cover bears the motto: ‘Together We Go Bite Yuh Together We Go Bleed’. The officer’s eyebrows rise in a combo of suspicion and scorn, before his highly informed stamp pounds into officious action with a red ‘Entry Denied’ exit visa; swiftly followed by horror on the face of the reject and summary squashing with his own passport.

This three-minute ‘unofficial message from the Ministry of Health’ alerting audiences to the threat of dengue fever borne by the Aedes Egypti mosquito, won young Princes Town born animator Ansar Sattar, the 2008 Animae Caribe award for Most Promising Newcomer.

This year, Vendor Rivalry, Ansar’s entry in the local Animae Caribe Animation and New Media Festival, deservedly won him the ‘Best Caribbean Animation’ award. Like One Night in Piarco, Vendor Rivalry offers a unique blend of cutting edge animation and insight into Trini lifestyle and humour. The rivalry between Icey the massive African snow cone vendor and Lall the pole-thin vendor of doubles, is a four-minute cameo complete with signature Trini fatigue and ol’ talk; slapstick kick-up action and a free for all shoot-out, featuring Lall’s channa launcher and Icey’s icebag projectiles.

The undeniable international quality of Ansar’s short, and its official recognition are tangible indications that the vision of the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company (TTFC) to develop and promote an indigenous film industry, is now being realized. As Ansar recently commented: “The success of Vendor Rivalry has given me so much hope for local cartooning. For me, the country's positive response has been overwhelming. I am extremely happy that I have succeeded in making our nation laugh at an everyday scenario. It is always a great feeling, when all your hard work and research is well received.”

The TTFC’s commitment to “fostering an artistic outlet that channels young talent into viable careers drawing personal stories in pixels and ink instead of blood and coffins”, led to its sponsorship of the first-ever Best Caribbean Animation Award at this year’s Animae Caribe Festival. The recognition that animation is becoming the medium of choice and for a new generation of filmmakers is apparent in the growing number of animations being produced through the TTFC’s Production Assistance and Script Development programme (PASD). As one of the few funding opportunities for new talent, the PASD has been instrumental in launching careers and contributing to the thrust of developing an indigenous film industry.

Ansar Sattar’s talent and success are exciting precedents, which can only add to TTFC’s accelerating reputation for walking the talk. If a young man from Princes Town, inspired by a boyhood fascination with comics, video games and the possibilities of fast-changing animated media can establish himself in the highly competitive animation industry, this sends a powerful yet accessible message to other young dreamers.

After A levels at St Stephens College, Ansar took his passion to the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale, Florida where he studied 3D Computer Animation, graduating in 2000 graduation with an award for the best digital portfolio.

After graduating he joined the rapidly expanding web media industry in Florida, creating interactive educational 2D flash animations for Learningsoft Inc and e-learning leaders Compass Learning, before establishing his own Electric Juvenile Productions website.

Hired by Flinch Studio in Orlando in 2004 Ansar began working on entertainment animation, including two local ads for Pepsi Spice, one of which featured Windies cricketer Ramnaresh Sarwan. In addition to work for Yahoo Music, Ready Heli and MTV Popzilla, Ansar’s latest productions are all local: an animated RBTT parang ad; an animated Bmobile Christmas ad and an animated mascot ad for Hilo.

Branching out into producing his own cartoons Ansar launched his Youtube channel, which with characteristic national pride he ingeniously named ‘Trinitoons’, a brand which promises great things given that his first two locally-inspired productions were awardees at the Animae Caribe Festival. Ansar’s ambition echoes the TTFC’s confidence and commitment to local film: “I hope trinitoons becomes internationally recognized, and that it makes a statement to the world that great and creative, artistic talent can be found in the Caribbean.”

He has the confidence, bred of success and dedication, that T&T has great potential for animation: “We are blessed to have a multicultural society that is filled with many untold stories. Our rich heritage, music, religious backgrounds and island spirit begs for these stories to be told to the world.” In terms of realizing that potential, he suggests: “The key elements to a successful animation future lie in a strong art foundation, access to current technology, a positive attitude, a keen imagination and a solid drive and focus towards perfection.”

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