As an aspiring writer, I spend a good portion of my daily brain power plotting and scheming my way out of the 9 to 5 and into lucrative authorhood. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job (Hi Boss!) but who doesn’t dream of turning a passion into a profession? One Wallingford woman has done just this: by the power of her artistic skill, powerful intelligence and outgoing personality (and a whole lot of work), Wyatt Bardouille’s documentary film “Dominica – Charting a Future for Paradise,” has earned a well-deserved place at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival.
When I sat down to chat with Wyatt Bardouille over cookies and tea on a sunny couch at Irwin’s, I was surprised at her level of energy. Five hours in an office and I was ready to curl up and take a nap, but Wyatt–mother of one, expecting a second, head of her own production company–was infectiously happy and spry. A former e-commerce professional, in 2004 Wyatt turned to nurturing her creative passions through the production of short films and the web-tv talkshow WhitneyandWyatt. When her mother’s birthplace–the Caribbean island of Dominica–began to plan a grand celebration of 30 years of independence from Great Britain, Wyatt decided to capture the events in a documentary film.
Plans to direct the movie on-site were thwarted by a pregnancy that grounded her in Seattle during the actual celebrations, but this is where things get even more interesting. Wyatt sent her mother, sister and camerman to Dominica to collect more than 65 hours of footage. When they returned, Wyatt and her film editor fashioned an incredible story, not just about the anniversary celebrations, but about the world of Dominica’s past and present, its local residents and the returned “diaspora,” the struggles and incredible strength of a nation in paradise. It is through the depcition of these aspects of Dominica that the island’s celebration can truly be understood, appreciated and even coveted by those of us who lack such a rich heritage.
Despite the natural beauty of the island, tourism is not a large industry and the people of Dominica still struggle economically from the effects of imperialism and the fierce competition of international markets. As stated in the film, “Anything that we can produce, somebody else can produce bigger, better, faster, cheaper. It is almost a waste of time, to say that you are going to produce something in Dominica and compete with it on an international market.” Even the two and a half minutes of the film’s trailer begs reflection on the concepts of success, future and the effects of the free market. The nation of Dominica contains the very things that success should be made of: solidarity, spirit, beauty and strength. Dominica – Charting a Future for Paradise gives the public a chance to find out what can happen when these things rest at the foundation of a nation’s identity, and Dominica’s daughter Wyatt has done a fine job of giving us a path to begin our exploration.
Although Wyatt’s film has been screened in Barbados and St. Louis as part of the Africa World Documentary Festival, it has not yet been publicly screened in Seattle. We’ll post an update when a screening is scheduled. If you’re interested in learning more about Dominica, here are some links to get you on your way: