Career & Education

Michelle Serieux appointed filmmaker in residence in UWI Department of Literatures in English

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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THE Department of Literatures in English, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, has appointed Michelle Serieux as filmmaker in residence. Serieux's appointment is for the second semester of the 2017/18 academic year, and runs from January to May.

A native of Castries, St Lucia, Serieux is a talented writer, director and producer whose contributions to the local Jamaican and wider Caribbean film industry spans more than a decade of dedicated commitment, service and innovation.

As a proud alumna of the University of the West Indies and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Serieux is also a trained actor with a background in theatre. She is drawn to the art of storytelling, the quirkiness of character-driven independent cinema, and the power of cinema to create meaningful change.

As a cultural and creative activist dedicated to using her talents to create stories that resonate especially with Caribbean and Pan African audiences worldwide, she has collaborated with various other creatives to produce work that helps build community.

One of those projects was New Caribbean Cinema, which she co-founded in 2009 on her return from graduate studies in New York, where she earned her master of arts degree from Columbia University as well as her professional producing certificate from New York University's School of Professional Studies. Serieux is also a documentary/non-fiction storyteller. In 2012 she won the Royal Bank of Canada/ Trinidad and Tobago Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Award and later became the first Caribbean recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute's/Worldview Latin American New Media Award. She has also lent her skills to international documentary collaborations, including the feature documentary investigating global skin bleaching practices, So Young, So Pretty, So White, directed by Terence Nance, which won the 2015 Independent Film Award, the 2015 Tribeca All Access Award, and the 2016 NBPC 360 Pitch Award.

She was also a shortlisted candidate for the Rex Nettleford Rhodes fellowship in cultural studies in 2015.

Serieux has continued to develop her skills in non-fiction storytelling and has been supported by workshops and opportunities from the Alter Cine Foundation Award, Chicken and Egg Pictures, Women Make Movies, The Miami Filmmaker's Collective, and the Sundance Institute's Stories of Change Program.

An avid reader and writer of short stories as a child, Serieux began her career in storytelling as an actor on the radio soap opera Apwe Plezi in St Lucia while in her teens. She was later hired as a production assistant on the development of Derek Walcott's adaptation of Ti Jean and His Brothers, and subsequently worked as the coordinator of multiple collaborations with Walcott and the St Lucia Cultural Development Foundation, The Trinidad and Tobago Theatre Workshop, and Change Performing Arts Group from Italy.

As a student in Jamaica, she apprenticed with veteran filmmaker Franklyn St Juste, Yvette Rowe, and Dr Deborah Hickling on local documentary and television productions, and later served as script supervisor for feature film productions such as Ghett'a Life (2011), Better Mus' Come (2007) and The Candy Shop (2007), produced by Firefly Films. She was informally mentored in screenwriting by the dramatic writers Stafford Ashani and Trevor Rhone, both of whom she met as a student at Edna Manley College under the recommendation of drama school director Eugene Williams.

With a diverse skillset acquired over years of investment in her creative development, Serieux boasts an impressive résumé of television production roles, arts management, music, and instructional videos while making time to give back to aspiring filmmakers through film workshops and informal consultations with her colleagues in the filmmaking fraternity.

Serieux's exceptional talent and extensive network of filmmakers should help to introduce UWI students and the broader community to diverse aspects of the industry.

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