With special thanks to Culturego Magazine
“The world is magic you know, but we forget”, a statement Miquel once said to me- which is the only way I can describe his films-magic. If we do forget that the world is magic, we are lucky that Miquel has found his passion in reminding us that it exists all around us, if we are but able to see it. He gives us a glimpse of the magical place we want the world to be, showing us how in some ways, it already exists.
He finds the places where many have ceased looking for anything beautiful, a jail cell for example, and shares the treasures he finds. He reaches into your soul through his lens, and intertwines it with each of his characters, driving home the obligation that each of us has to try to find a way to love each and every human being. We know sometimes this isn’t the easiest of tasks, but he helps us do it by illuminating the beauty of his subjects by telling their story with a mixture of skill, compassion and admiration.
EP: You said in a previous interview that when you first arrived in Trinidad it felt like home, but it took a while for you to understand it. Do you feel like you understand it now?
Miquel: Yes. Because when you first reach everything is beautiful and nice and everybody’s your friend but then you realise…I had hard times as well… you realise that people pretend to be your friend but sometimes things go badly. It’s sweet but it’s bitter as well. I was happy but realising everything is not as nice as I thought at the beginning, but now after five years I feel in love with Trinidad again. I get it.
“The World Is Magic You Know, But We Forget”
EP: You also said that Trinidad is really unique with the mixes and contrasts in its culture. How do you think it is unique relative to other places you have been to?
Miquel: What happened here with the mix of people and cultures and religions is not normal. It is something that is advanced. I guess the world is going to be like it is here in the next two or three hundred years but you have it in Trinidad right now. How you live together is amazing. How many religions and how many different races. It’s beautiful. Black people excited because it is Diwali and everybody eating doubles and you see that they really interact and they live together and they feel Trini. I love it. I keep telling my friends recently, this is amazing. Look where we live. It’s beautiful. I just love it and I go on a lot of trips, road trips, to south, to the north coast, everywhere and just see beautiful people all over. It’s special.
EP: What are some of the moments that have stood out to you in all the projects that you have done?
Miquel: One moment that was very touching and life changing is when I had to go to the ghettos to film these documentaries. I remember everybody telling me don’t go there. It’s very dangerous. I don’t talk English. I don’t get the code of conduct. I don’t understand when a man is looking at my eyes in the ghetto and I’m afraid. And when I went there I felt so welcomed and so good energy and so much respect, that that changed my life. People are struggling but people are giving so much. Since then I feel I owe something to them and I keep doing works that are showing the nice side of these parts. So that was very touching and I feel very close to ghettos, poor areas and how these families work and struggle; single mums.
The second one is ‘Songs of Redemption’ filming in the jail, filming inmates. You have a chance to talk to them, to know them and they open themselves and the moment that you realise that they are persons and they did a mistake…then in your brain something is like, “wait wait wait wait wait! Can I feel friendly… can I have feelings, care about someone, who did what they say that he did…?” and then you realise man, there are no good people and no bad people. There are just people with problems. And that was another point that changed everything again in my brain.It’s beautiful to break prejudices and open your mind. And it`s difficult but I`m lucky because my job allows me to do that
“It’s beautiful to break prejudices and open your mind.”
Third big thing that changed my life in my work. First time we went to the school in Laventille, Success Laventille. We did interviews with kids. And we did an interview with the most beautiful girl, Isis, twelve years old. Big eyes, amazing face, and she says- I don`t have anything to be happy about. I saw myself there. I was in front of me, 30 years later, with the opportunity, to talk to me. Then is when I thought, we have to do something, I have to do something, and then is when the documentary was born.
EP: Is there a special technique you use that is guaranteed to get you great footage and provoke emotion?
Miquel: You have to get ready to get magic because magic is everywhere and you don`t know where it is. You have to get ready to get it. Open your eyes, get the best of the people that are in front of you and be open to get surprised. Any script you have is rubbish because the script is in the heart of the people that are in front of you so the only trick is LISTEN. LISTEN. Open your eyes and listen.
EP: Which project are you most proud of?
Miquel: Art Connect. Art Connect is my project. I think I have been, all my life, getting ready to do Art Connect. That`s how I feel it. The only one that is my idea. I did seven documentaries, none of them were my idea, only Art Connect was my idea and I said what I had to say, what I had inside.
“The script is in the heart of the people that are in front of you so the only trick is to listen.”
EP: Do you feel a level of accomplishment now as a film maker?
Miquel: Yes and no. Yes because I learnt to film, I have learnt to tell stories, I have learnt to edit and provoke feelings. I don`t feel I`m talented but I have the passion that allows me to work really hard.
So I know that working hard I can make it but it`s no because it`s almost impossible to make a life doing that. I cannot make a living off doing documentaries. It`s a fight and the hardest part is to get the budget that allows you to make the story that you want to tell. Actually I don`t think it`s hard, I think it`s impossible. I don`t do what I want, I do what I can. None of my documentaries were what I wanted to do, it`s what I could do, and it`s the closest I could go to what I wanted. But, it`s very very very hard.
EP : What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?
Miquel : For me to be extraordinary means to be yourself because there is nobody like you. So if you are you, you are always going to be extraordinary.
For a comprehensive catalogue of Miquel`s work visit: miquelgalofre.com