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New festival manager Donelle Wills talks passing on traditions

Donelle Wills - Festival Manager

New festival manager of the Film and Folklore Festival Donelle Wills says one of the aims of the third edition of the festival is to pass on traditions to the younger generation.

Wills is the sister of festival founder Leslie Ann Wills-Caton and during the two previous iterations of the festival she was on the "back end".

"We're pretty close, so any idea she has we would have discussions. (For the festival) I would read her scripts and act as a sounding board, giving feedback and sharing ideas."

When Wills-Caton had to give up the reins of the festival due to other commitments she asked Wills if she was willing to manage it.

"I know the love and passion she has and I support her in everything she does. (With me as festival manager) it will remain a family business. And it's a new adventure for me as well."

Wills explained as the festival manager she will have to ensure everything comes together as orchestrated.

But no event in 2021 can escape the shadow of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions. Wills noted the Camp Folklore Children's Event on Monday, May 31 was originally scheduled to be held at San Fernando Hill, but due to COVID the historical landmark remained closed and an alternate location has to be sourced. She further explained because of the restrictions they cannot have a full day of events but would have to break it up into specific periods to allow for sanitizing between sessions.

"Every event you have to keep the numbers low."

She said, however, that due to COVID restrictions the festival was even more important as children who have been stuck inside due to online schooling were becoming a bit depressed.

"They miss the simple act of play and running around. With the festival, we want to target families to bring out children."

Expanding on the "Our Stories" theme, Wills said they want to take participants back to when they were children or when their parents were children.

"When current went you would come outside in the village, the kids would gather around and someone would tell a story. And children would play games like hula hoop, hopscotch and cricket. We want to reintroduce those traditions to our children."

On the folklore aspect, Wills said it was about passing on traditions.

"Each culture has stories personal to its culture. Our children don't know our stories. This festival will help them touch base with what is their own. Where I come from makes my culture and my country special. That's the purpose of folklore."

She explained the festival this year will be a hybrid form and people can choose from different events including online stories, cinema screenings, a Caroni Swamp Dinner Tour and Storytelling Event, a Hyarima Treasure Hunt, and a Red Carpet Event on Lady Chancellor Hill where the festival began back in 2019.

"It's a fun-filled, packed weekend."

The festival will be held from Thursday, May 27 to Monday, May 31.

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