Kevin Osepa makes magical elements of Caribbean come to life at Go Short
As a visual artist, he won the prestigious Dutch film award Gouden Kalf (translation: Gold Calf) in the category Best Short Film for his film La Última Ascensión in 2022. Now, he’s been invited to curate two short film programs at Go Short 2023.
With his love for Curaçao and his experiences about being stuck between two worlds, he puts the Dutch Caribbean on the map. Go Short spoke with him beforehand.
The Dutch film industry can’t go around you any longer – and the press knows; all the big names are writing about you. How do you feel about receiving all this attention?
“I’m fine. It’s busy, but I’ll manage. I’m just thankful for all of this, because I wasn’t expecting this much attention.”
“In the first place, I make art for myself – or I make something I’d like to see. If other people see something in that as well, then that has a profound effect on me, absolutely.”
What keeps you occupied these days, apart from all of this attention?
“I try to take it slow whenever I can and I’m writing a lot nowadays. The last six months were wild.”
“Still, I like to keep looking ahead as well. That’s why I’m preparing a trip to Curaçao end of February. I’ll be having conversations with the people of Curaçao to get inspired by their stories and their different perspectives. I think it’s important to be around the people there when I’m writing a story that takes place on the island.”
“Many times, I look back at my photography to understand the elements I find interesting to write a story about. Therefore, I always start with images. With my photography and my films, I try to visualize the afro-spiritual layer of Curaçao.”
The “afro-spiritual layer of Curaçao”. Can you elaborate?
“It’s hard to explain, but afro-spirituality and magical elements are part of the day-to-day life on the island. The first seventeen years of my life I’ve lived there. I was born and raised on Curaçao, so to me, these influences are very obvious, even visually. Still, because it’s integrated in the culture, you won’t be able to grasp it if you’re not aware. That’s why I want to make it visible for others as well. Therefore, I use the magical elements I see there in my art.”
How do you use these elements in your work?
“It could be for anything, but mainly to document the relation between coping with trauma and rituals. Seeking some sort of satisfaction after an occurrence of misfortunate fate or seeing this fate as something paranormal. I’m also very interested in how this coping mechanism changes per culture, while the use is so universal and part of human nature. I think film is a beautiful way to show these magical elements.”
"I hope my film programs will provoke conversations about the past, so we can collectively start working on a new future."
Is that a theme people can expect in one of your film programs at Go Short?
“I’m still in the exploration phase, so I can’t reveal too much right now. What I can tell, however, is that one of the two film programs will focus on the history of the Dutch Caribbean, while the other will be about the Dutch Caribbean now and post-colonialism. What I hope is that this will provoke a conversation between the two programs: conversations about the past to start a new future, collectively. Some of the conversations we’re having now already took place during the eighties. So, we should go beyond that.”
“In order to do this, I believe it’s important to zoom in on smaller stories between real people. I want to let go of the part in which we discuss the urgency about these sensitive, large themes – even though I find these very important as well. I don’t see myself as a messiah, but I do feel prompted to put the Caribbean on the map by telling real stories.”
What are some Caribbean makers who have made important steps in facilitating these conversations and should be receiving more credit in the (Dutch) film industry?
“Felix de Rooy, who won a Gouden Kalf in 2020, is a very talented filmmaker from Curaçao. I admire him and his free-spirited approach a lot, especially for his time. He touched on themes that were controversial back then and still are in some ways today, especially for a Caribbean perspective.”
“The films he made, such as Almácita di Desolato and Ava i Gabriel, are very inspirational to me. Mainly a scene with a conversation between a painter and a priestin Ava i Gabriel. I won’t spoil anything, but the conversation they’re having in that scene is still relevant 40 years later. Another film that inspires me a lot is Boka Sarantonio from Caribbean filmmaker Pacheco Domacassé.”
Noted! What can we expect from you in the near future?
“I’m working on different projects now and writing my debut film which I’m really excited about.”
Clear. Thanks for your time.
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