Like many 12-year-old boys growing up Behind the Bridge, a gang-ridden pocket of Port of Spain, Trinidad, known for its birthplace of the steel band, Dalton Narine watched a mess of movies with friends. Once, when they took in a “double” on the way to soccer practice, Narine stayed back for the credit roll. His friends tried to hustle him out. He told them they should at least honor the cast and crew who made the films work. They laughed harder at his quip that someday his name would be scrolling like that on a movie screen somewhere. Little did they know it was a prescient warning.
Narine moved on to write, produce and direct fifteen documentaries on Trinidad & Tobago culture and another about the Vietnam war he fought.
His masterpiece remains MasMan, a film about Carnival artist/designer Peter Minshall, whose stellar themes and stylish costumery grabbed Hollywood’s attention.
“I made the film partly because when Minshall was an artistic director of the Opening Ceremonies at the Barcelona Olympics, the media described him as “someone from the Caribbean,” Narine says. “So, with 80 percent of the world glued to the telecasts, I put a face on the three opening ceremonies he helped brainstorm, two of which earned him and the team Emmys. But MasMan contributes largely to man’s incompleteness, as danced and showcased in Minshall’s exclusive theatre of the streets. Yet, it’s about the three decades of Minshall’s provocative themes and presentations in the annual festival.”
Masman won 15 awards around the world for Best Film, and Best Director in both short and feature categories. The film has been screened in forty-seven countries on six continents. It won Best Caribbean Film in 2012.
Narine’s 28-minute flick, “And Great Showers of Tears Came Down,” picked up Best Short in New York, Florida and Amsterdam.
Narine’s life hasn’t been only about film. He has written for the Village Voice, New York; served as a features editor/writer at The Miami Herald; and an editor/writer at Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Ebony magazine. He received awards for feature writing at Ebony and The Herald. Narine was drafted into the US Army for quitting the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Howard University. After the war, Narine benefited from the GI Bill, resuming his education at Hunter College, New York University, Brooklyn College and the University of Miami.
Notwithstanding his long bout with PTSD, Narine has shifted to feature-length screenwriting. He’s working on a final draft about the human condition as it pertains to constant fluctuations of battlefield survival. Two other scripts interest him, both relevant to the Caribbean past and present.
“I’m certainly looking forward to how audiences will react to Caribbean life, warts and all, on the big screen.”