IFF Panama: Mariel Brown’s ‘Unfinished Sentences’ Is Ode to Family, Love and Loss

Vying for the Primera Mirada pix-in-post grand prize

Grief is a strange beast. When “Unfinished Sentences” helmer Mariel Brown’s father died in 2009, she was afflicted with a psychosomatic hearing problem and plunged into a deep depression. A celebrated Caribbean writer-poet, her father Wayne Brown succumbed to lung cancer not long after he was diagnosed.

“Although our relationship was difficult, it was full of love, and when he died, I felt like a thread that was slowly unraveling,” she mused.

Encouraged by friends and family to make a full-length documentary about him, she worked on “Unfinished Sentences” for some six years, reeling in the help of writer-docu doctor Fernanda Rossi.

While foremost a tribute to her father, “Unfinished Sentences” explores his life but also their complex relationship through the years.  Ultimately, it has served as a cathartic experience.

“It brought my father closer to me,” she said, adding: “At its heart, it’s about family, love and loss.”

Based in Trinidad & Tobago, Brown has made a slew of award-winning non-fiction shorts, features and TV series through her banner, Savant Ltd, some of them intimate portraits of artists like her father.

She first pitched “Unfinished Sentences” at Ventana Sur in 2015 where she was encouraged to present it to IFF Panama’s Primera Mirada, one of four chosen out of nearly 50 submissions. “Just being selected is a nice feather in my cap,” she said. She hopes to secure more funding to complete its post-production.

To make “Unfinished Sentences” she raised more than $10,000 on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, through pledges of just 122 backers. Brown also tapped what limited government funding was available for her doc, budgeted at $100,000.

“It would have been virtually impossible to make this documentary 10 to 15 years ago,” said Brown who pointed out that Trinidad & Tobago now produces two-to-three features a year, compared to one every five to 10 years. Budget cuts due to a recession in this oil-rich country has impacted the Production Assistance and Script Development program (PASD), which offers small grants of up to $15,000 per projects.

“At the moment, FILM TT (the new name for the Film Company of Trinidad and Tobago) is offering micro grants towards marketing costs of up to $1,500,” said Brown.

Aside from taking it on the festival circuit, she hopes to screen it at home. “I hope that the Trinidad audience will respond well to a film that is deeply personal and full of love.”

More Film

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • Stuber Movie

    Disney Left With a Slate of Film Flops After Fox Deal

    Is Disney having buyer’s remorse? The studio would be forgiven if it were having some regrets after absorbing 20th Century Fox, the company that once generated big box office with the likes of “Avatar,” “Life of Pi,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” After “Dark Phoenix” bombed earlier this summer, Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista’s action comedy “Stuber” [...]

  • Taika Waititi Returning to Direct 'Thor

    Taika Waititi to Direct Marvel's 'Thor 4'

    Taika Waititi is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi’s take on the fourth “Thor” movie puts Warner Bros.’ long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely. However, the studio hopes that “Akira” can get resume production with Waititi at the helm once [...]

  • Akira

    'Akira' Production Put on Hold by Warner Bros.

    Warner Bros. has put its long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely, sources tell Variety. Sources indicate that after a brief delay, the studio has pulled the plug on production indefinitely for the classic anime adaptation, which was set to begin later this fall. “Thor: Ragnarok” helmer Taika Waititi was on board to direct, and the [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content