Built in the mid 1800’s to protect the City of Georgetown from the rising sea, the seawall has served over the years as more than just a sea defense for the coastline. It has also served as a place of recreation for many and now through the eyes of a Guyanese born filmmaker, the seawall is serving as a symbol of hope to tell the story of Guyana and migration.
Sony Pictures Diversity Fellow, Mason Richards was born in Guyana but migrated to the United States at the age of 7. He would go on to complete his education life in the United States, graduating with a Masters in Film Directing. As part of his thesis, Richards wrote and directed a number of short films.
When he returned to Guyana 20 years after migrating, he was captivated with the stories of many of the persons he met along the way and. He was also captivated by Guyana and it’s peculiarities and its many stories.
The film is titled “The Seawall” and according to the Director, it was shot entirely on location in Georgetown, Guyana and tells the tale of a 10-year-old boy who was preparing to migrate to the United States and the sacrifices his grandmother made as he prepared for the new life. The short film highlights Guyana’s challenges and cultures.
It examines the influence of other South American and Caribbean cultures while showcasing the importance of hope and optimism.
Richards who migrated when he was very young himself explained that while the story line and the film are not about him, there are some shades of his own experiences and the experiences of many other persons that he would have met upon his return to Guyana.
He said all of the actors used in the short film were amateurs who he allowed to “play themselves” in the film because their stories matched the story he wanted to tell. He said he even used young people from the Kitty area where he grew up, to assist with the filming and the production in an effort to give them a first hand experience of film production and acting.
The project was a success and the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France and was well received. It has also been showcased at a number of other film festivals and just recently was screened at the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in Suriname.
The Director said he now wants to tell the entire story about “leaving the seawall behind and going to start a new life in the U.S” in the form of a feature film. The project he admits is an ambitious one that will require the support of the local business community and persons who may be interested in ensuring the story is told beyond Guyana’s own seawall.
Interested persons and companies could make contact with the Director via his Facebook Page “The Seawall – A film by Mason Richards”.