Carnival Documentary series coming to South Florida

by Howard Campbell

Carnival documentary series
Trinidadian singer Kes of Kes The Band being interviewed for film-maker Jessy Schuster’s Carnival documentary

Caribbean National Weekly met up with film-maker Jessy Schuster regarding her Carnival documentary

Jessy Schuster has been part of many Carnivals since her childhood in Guadeloupe. But it was not until five years ago that the film-maker decided to produce a series on an event that is distinctly Caribbean.

The 36-year-old Schuster, who lives in Miami, is in post-production for the series which she will debut early next year.

Hour long episode

The first hour-long episode focuses on Carnival in her homeland, and in Trinidad and Tobago.

She started work on the yet-named project 10 months ago, filming scenes and interviewing artists and organizers in Guadeloupe and Trinidad. Singer Kes of Kes the Band, and designer Douglas John were two of the persons she interviewed in Trinidad.

Special to her

While working at PBS in Miami, Schuster contributed to several documentaries, but this one is special to her. “I want people to learn about this annual Caribbean celebration. There are so much stories beyond the beads, feathers and costumes that you see on pictures and videos. The Caribbean has a rich historical past that connects all of the islands, and despite our many differences. We also have so much in common,” she explained.

Culture of Carnival

“The culture of Carnival is a common denominator among our islands, but we celebrate in different ways.” One of Schuster’s first goals was to get acquainted with those “different ways.”

In the past three years, she has attended Carnival in Miami, Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Toronto and Paris. Next year, she plans similar visits to St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados.

Guadeloupe born

Born in Pointe á Pitre, Guadeloupe, Schuster said she first experienced Carnival in her country at age four. Moving to South Florida 17 years ago, she was drawn to the energy of the region’s Caribbean Diaspora, particularly the Trinidadians, and how they celebrated Carnival. It was only natural that she launched her first solo documentary featuring Carnival in Guadeloupe and Trinidad.

“It was obvious to me to start with my ‘two loves’ I have regarding Carnival: My first one being Guadeloupe and the second, Trinidad. Little did I know how linked they are historically and culturally speaking, as you will see in the documentary,”  she said.

“We basically have the same roots of Carnival; Trinidad was culturally influenced by the French coming there from Guadeloupe and Martinique in the 18th Century.”

Jessy Schuster plans to have screenings of the Carnival documentary series in Miami, Guadeloupe and Trinidad in January, just before the Caribbean Carnival season starts in February.

Ready for Miami Carnival? Here are some tips to get you acclimated:


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