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Meschida Philip
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Meschida Philip


'My Trip To India Sparked My Interest In Film'

Film Director, Producer & Writer and Founder of 12°N, 61°W Grenada Film Festival Meschida Philip.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 21, 2023, 02:50 PM

Photo of

Meschida Philip

Photo by

Meschida Philip
Meschida Philip's journey to becoming a filmmaker and festival founder was unexpected. Her interest in documentary filmmaking was sparked during a trip to India in 2015. As a result, she pursued a Master's Degree in Filmmaking, with a particular emphasis on documentary filmmaking.

In 2017, Meschida made her first film ‘Scars Of A Mother’s Dream’, a film that explored the psychological impact that parental migration has on children. A year later, she went to her homeland Grenada where she recognised the need of having a developmental framework that will help elevate the industry. 

She started the 12°N, 61°W Grenada Film Festival, which she says was not her initial intention, but rather developed as a response to the country's need for it. So what’s behind the name of the festival? 

We found out about that and more in this conversation with Meschida Philip. 

What’s behind the name of the festival?
People: Chioma Chukwuka and Meschida Philip | Photo by: Go2Fete at the 4th edition of 1261 Film Festival, Grenada 2022
The actual name of the festival is 12°N, 61°W Grenada Film Festival, also known as 1261 Film Festival, was inspired by the geographical coordinates of Grenada. My desire was to have a name that not only signifies the culture but also encompasses the physical location that embodies Grenada's identity.

Did your childhood influence your storytelling?

Absolutely! Growing up, I was exposed to a diverse range of movies from a young age, including Western, and Chinese films, and later Indian movies, American cinema, and black films. This exposure, along with reading extensively after my parents migrated to the United States in the 80s, helped develop my imaginative mind. 

However, as I got older, I realized that people like me were not well-represented in the film industry. Consequently, I made a conscious decision to tell stories that reflect my background as a Caribbean national living in America. This determination fueled my creative output and allowed me to bridge both worlds, which I had been unable to do before.

I have films that represent the Caribbean, Grenadian and descendants from Africa. I want people to see us in a positive light on the screen so that the next generation can see themselves on the screen. 

Why did you choose to tell stories about social issues?

Did I choose these narratives or did the narratives choose me? Haha. 

Scars, I needed to get out. That was my personal story and I was in search of answers to find out if my experiences were unique to me or not.

My second film Searching For Crystal explores human trafficking in the Caribbean. In 2018, I was commissioned to do a piece in New York, which inspired me to work on this film. I was curious to find out if human trafficking existed there because it’s not talked about or covered frequently in mainstream media

I was astonished by the data from sources like the UN and UNESCO regarding how rampant it was in the region and felt compelled to do Searching For Crystal. I did it as an educational piece to let people know that things like this can happen here.  

How have your films been received in the Caribbean?
Image Poster of Scars Of A Mother's Dream
My films, especially Scars Of A Mother’s Dream have been well received. It has been screened around the world. I was invited to screen it at Locarno Film Festival through the Open Doors program, making me the first Grenadian at that festival. 

I also showed it in London and the Americas. Migration is something that we all experience regardless of our background, hence the reason why it’s so relatable and well-received.  

As for Searching For Crystal, I haven’t really pushed it out because of the subject matter. It triggers survivors of human trafficking so I have to be very particular and sensitive about where I take it and who I show it, which is why I attach it to cause-driven events. That said, when I screened it, it has also been well received.

How did you come across Pavillon Afriques?

I learnt about Pavilllon Afriques about three years ago when they were expanding to include the diaspora and the Caribbean. I was invited by Ms Barclais to facilitate a virtual panel which focused on the work we were doing in the Caribbean and North America; to create awareness about our filmmakers from the region and to introduce our work to the African market and industry professionals.  

Will you be introducing any projects this year at Cannes?

We are still in the process of finalizing all the details for this year. Additionally, we are in communication with the government of Grenada to explore the possibility of having either a country representation or a delegation present there.

How is Pavillon Afriques impacting the Caribbean film industry?

Pavillon Afriques provides a distinct chance for filmmakers of the African diaspora, including those from the Caribbean, as there are limited opportunities to connect with funders, investors, sales agents, and gatekeepers who have a particular interest in African narratives. 

In contrast, other marketplaces tend to overlook our work, highlighting the distinctiveness of Pavillon Afriques. Filmmakers who have the chance to participate in this space should seize it. 

Regarding Caribbean filmmakers, I am collaborating with Karine to raise awareness of their work to be screened at the Pavillon, aiming for increased Caribbean Cinema representation at Cannes.
What challenges have you faced in the industry?

As an independent filmmaker, I have faced challenges in the industry, particularly with funding and a lack of awareness about the business aspect of filmmaking. 

Many people have a romanticized view of the industry and don't take it seriously, which makes it difficult to approach stakeholders who may not understand the vision and business behind a project, especially in emerging industries like our region. 

This has resulted in a struggle to raise enough capital to complete projects. Additionally, the audience can also be challenging, as they may hold independent work to the same standards as Hollywood productions. 

However, in recent years, there has been a positive shift in attitudes towards independent filmmakers from the Caribbean and Africa, with audiences valuing our work more highly.

What are the standout moments in your career?

Wow! As someone who is constantly on the move, I haven't really taken the time to reflect on standout moments. However, some experiences that come to mind include the positive reception of my work, the opportunities it has given me to connect with filmmakers around the world, and the chance to present my work to funders and gatekeepers in various locations such as the Lorcano, British Film Institute, and Pavillion Afriques, also at schools, including St. George’s University & University of West Indies. 

These experiences have allowed me to build a stronger network and contribute to the development of the film industry in Grenada and the Caribbean.

What’s your advice to upcoming filmmakers?

Stay determined and do not let fear hold you back. Keep your focus on your goals, purpose, and motivation.