Bmobile teams up with Movietowne, GML to treat students to Black Panther
Peels of laughter, screams and gasps filled Screen Three of Movietowne, Port-of-Spain, as 85 students from the Morvant/Laventille area, gathered, popcorn and soft drinks in hand, to see the critically acclaimed, superhero blockbuster, Black Panther – which has outperformed The Avengers to become the highest-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe film, in its first week.
There was excited chatter throughout the two-hour plus film escalating to an eruption of applause when Trinbagonian actor, Winston Duke, appeared on screen in his commanding role as Jabari tribe leader, M’baku.
“He’s from Tobago, you know!” one boy shouted excitedly.
The students represented Russell Latapy Secondary, Morvant Laventille Secondary, Success Laventille Secondary, Malick Secondary and South East Port-of-Spain Secondary.
Brainchild behind the initiative, Guardian Media Journalist and President of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Joel Julien, explains that his motivation to give the students the opportunity to see the movie, was two-fold.
“I wanted the children of the Morvant/ Laventille area, a community that has been stigmatized for far too long, to be able to see people of colour being portrayed in a positive light. And also knowing a Tobagonian and other Caribbean nationals were playing starring roles in the movie, I felt it would help them realise that they too can achieve whatever goal they set their mind to.”
Julien was also in high praise of the bmobile team for always enthusiastically giving back to the youth of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Bmobile rented out the entire theatre for the children and their teachers to have a private viewing of Black Panther and also supplied them with popcorn and soft drinks. I am completely grateful to bmobile because without them, this initiative would not have been able to come off in the way it did. When the idea was first broached with Graeme Suite, he immediately came on board and encouraged the initiative every step of the way.”
“The way the project came together was amazing,” said Graeme Suite, Senior Manager of Brand, Public Relations and External Affairs, at TSTT. “Joel had this selfless idea and bmobile volunteers along with Movietowne, Guardian Media and the Ministry of Education, came together to ensure these students could be part of a global experience they will remember for a long time. This experience felt like a modern twist to the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. The students’ reaction was completely worth it.”
Lisa Sadler, Film Buyer/Special Events Manager, MovieTowne, said she was delighted to witness the children’s excitement to watch the movie, which she stated had already become a bestseller at the theatre. “It’s wonderful to be a part of this and to see how happy the kids are. Everyday we have school children coming in to see Black Panther and Movietowne is always willing to support any initiative that supports the youth and I hope they had a marvelous time.”
From the looks and sounds of it, they did.
Josiah John, 14, of South East Secondary, thought he was dreaming when he was informed that he was chosen to see the movie. “I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to see it so bad but my parents didn’t get a chance to carry me, so I feel so happy today. It was great.” Fellow colleague, Shania Durham, 13, echoed similar sentiments. “When I heard my name being announced at school, at first I didn’t know what it was for, I was telling myself, ‘What I do boy?’ Then when they told me I was going to see Black Panther, I was so excited and happy. It’s a dream come true.”
Visual Art teacher, Kharma Cox, who was present at the theatre to supervise his students, said Josiah and Shania were among 17 students from the school, chosen to see the movie, based on their academic achievements. Cox said he wanted to show the children that despite where they came from, their efforts can yield positive rewards.
“At first they didn’t know why their names were being called but when they found out there was an uproar. They started clapping, laughing, jumping up and down.
“I really want to commend all those who made this happen because I think it’s a good opportunity, not only for the students, but for the image of these schools. It’s a rare chance to let us showcase the brighter side and motivate our students to aspire for more,” Cox said.