It was standing-room-only at last week’s Film Premiere in Paget Farm, Bequia, so much so that over 50 people were spilling out into the road watching the movie through the open windows of the packed Community Centre.
The event was the first showing of ‘Reclaiming Paget Farm: Looking Back. Moving Forward.’, a three-part documentary looking at the past, present and future of the Bequia Fishing Village.

MCed by school teacher Clerise Derrick, with a short introduction by Executive Producers Jessica Jaja and Cabral LARC Trotman, the documentary is the culmination of work created by 12 new filmmakers who had participated in an intensive 12-week course in Bequia with Skylarc Pictures. All the filming, interviewing, sound and editing were done by people who, 3 months previously, had not so much as held a film camera.

What they produced in that time was extraordinary: A passionate, detailed, informative and highly professional story of rich culture and heritage, common social problems, environmental issues and an attempt to find new ways forward for this diverse community to survive and thrive.

Reclaiming Paget Farm: Looking Back. Moving Forward. from Skylarc Pictures on Vimeo.

The first chapter, “Bequia Sunken Treasures: Paget Farm Lost and Forgotten” was made by Canyon Duncan, Daren Ragguette, Estar Mars, Jamie Simmons and Sophie Lawrence. It showed us the rich history of the people of Paget Farm before the airport was built, through personal accounts of the treasures and culture that have all but disappeared.

At that time fishing, boat building and agriculture were all mainstays in the community. Fresh food was plentiful and available to everyone. Whaling was not only the pride of the village, but the event that brought everyone together. We see children playing on the beach that was lost to the airport and the sense of togetherness that was ever present. Tender interviews with the elders told viewers a tale of community spirit, and a sense of loss.

The second chapter, “Rising from the Ashes” made by Anthony Sargeant, Kirk Ollivierre and Jessica King, focuses on the many social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the people of Paget Farm today.
Teenage pregnancy, pollution and the state of the roads were key areas that the film touched on in a way that was sensitive, enlightening and thought provoking. Compassionate interviews with girls whom had children in their teens, their struggle, their rise above their situation, were excellently portrayed.

This chapter not only exposed these realities but also the possibility of overcoming them by showing local residents seeking success through hard times. Positive initiatives, like the availability of fresh water through a solar-powered desalination plant, were highlighted along side the true craftsmanship and fishing culture rich to the area.

“When Love is King”, the third and final chapter, made by Brinsley Ollivierre, Colin Peters, Jason Simmons and Moriah Alves, explored grassroots initiatives to build a future the people of Paget Farm want for their community.

Creating a community garden together to grow their own food and reinstating and investing in the rich fishing industry were two of the suggestions for a self-sufficient future. Having a clean and tidy environment, one they and their children can to be proud of, was an overriding theme. Time together with happy social occasions is a must. Reintroducing skills from the past, ensuring trades are passed down from the generations, establishing a creative hub to rejuvinate the area, were all steps to reclaim Paget Farm.

The chapter took a ground breaking approach by calling for a mentality shift to achieve these aims. Love should be at the centre of the future; self love, community love, and world love. Sharing, an attitude of support, empathy and pride at the heart of this precious community is the way forward.
Snippets of numerous local people’s positive reaction to the idea showed us that this can work. Whatever the outcome, bringing love as an overriding social philosophy for everyone is a bold and revolutionary concept.

Jessica Jaja, Executive Producer, was very proud of the filmmakers, ‘we decided to take a new approach to addressing social issues, all while helping Bequians of all ages and backgrounds develop new skills. It was a big ask, but the end result was so powerful. ‘

Each film chapter was followed by a lively Question & Answer session, bringing the audience into the discussion and offering inspirational and often provocative insights from the floor.
Throughout the film, uplifting snippets of J Goul’s renditions of an old whaling song and ‘Paget Farm, We are the Champions’ were incorporated.

At the end of the evening the buzz as the audience left the hall was palatable. The sense of togetherness, and love, after an exceptional evening of creativity will stay with everyone for a long time to come.