Award-winning first generation Trinidadian-American director/producer Charysse Tia Harper of Xplore the World is currently working on a feature-length documentary looking at the history of the steelpan in Trinidad & Tobago and its influence around the globe. Jointly produced with British award-winning director Keith Musaman Morton, the film titled Panomundo, is slated for release August 2014.
To make the film, the duo initially travelled to Trinidad & Tobago for three months in 2012 where they interviewed steelband members, historians, and government officials to learn more about the history of the steelpan. Additional filming took place in London and in Illinois, USA. They were able to interview pan legends and figure heads, such as Ellie Mannette, the man who created a concave playing surface for the steel pan; Sterling Betancourt, a member of TASPO who introduced the instrument in London and Zurich, Switzerland; Cliff Alexis, a member of the National Steelband of Trinidad & Tobago that played with American performer Liberace; and Ray Holman, international pannist, composer and arranger.
“People have been inspired by this instrument to help others stay out of trouble, gain a sense of self-fulfilment and show off their musical skills,” explains Harper. “We have the opportunity to share their stories and let the world know how important the pan is.”
To complete the film about the only musical instrument to have been invented in the 20th century, the crew – made up people from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and North America – then travelled to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, Japan, and Switzerland during 2013. Watch the tailer for the Panomundo documentary below.