I don’t suppose Caribbean Cinemas at Choc have seen such a crowd, at least since the last Fast and Furious movie hit the screen, but on Thursday evening by 6.15pm, practically every seat was filled for the Saint Lucian premiere of Dr. Bruce Paddington’s documentary ‘Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution.’
And as a piece of documentary film-making, Paddington’s heart-stoppingly compelling and viscerally visual record of the rise of the Maurice Bishop’s New Jewel Movement is a real triumph – perhaps not perfectly in line with everyone’s opinion or recollection, but certainly for the historical significance of capturing a story which tore apart our tiny island neighbour and deeply impacted the entire Caribbean region.
The film focuses on the 1979-83 period through the eyes and experiences of many of the key participants, political and otherwise. From the bloodless coup through which Bishop and the NJM seized power from Eric Gairy and the Grenada United Labour Party, through the wonder years of a unique experiment in socialism to the dramatic implosion of the People’s Revolutionary Government, and the events surrounding
the execution of Bishop who was then Prime Minister, along with cabinet members and civilians, concluding with the U.S. military invasion in October 1983.
Paddington sourced rare and formerly unseen archival footage from Grenada, Cuba and the USA, filmed hours of interviews with ordinary Grenadians and those who experienced in one way or another the bliss and the horror associated with the revolution. His son Luke edited the project, and together they have created a film of such importance, that one viewer on Thursday evening recommended ‘Forward Ever’ should be shown in every school on the island, so significant is its educational value.
Roger Toussaint, former president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and a member of the Caribbean Awareness Committee, said about the documentary: “The Grenada experience impacted the course of struggles throughout the Caribbean and beyond. This film makes a valuable contribution to those of us concerned about the way forward to a progressive Caribbean.”
In Wednesday’s STAR, we’ll have a full review of Forward Ever: The Killing of Revolution, and reaction from some of the attendees of Thursday’s Saint Lucian premier.