January 8, 2018
The first film written in San Andres-Providencia Creole is here
by Ryan Harrington
You’d be forgiven for missing some of the end-of-year highlights in international film as 2017 came to a close. You did, after all, have other stuff going on. But let’s take a look back at Bad Lucky Goat, which, as Joe Parkin Daniels reports for the Guardian, “is the first film ever written and produced in San Andres-Providencia creole.”
You’d also be forgiven for not recognizing that language, limited, as it is, to a tiny island of 5,000 people.
You’d be thrice-forgiven for not having heard of that tiny Caribbean island, Old Providence (AKA Providencia).
But the forgiveness stops in March, when Melville House publishes Tom Feiling’s pean to the island’s fascinating history and inhabitants, The Island that Disappeared. Of course, it didn’t literally disappear (though it is small enough to have evaded the eyes of many cartographers), but it nearly disappeared from history, despite having contributed to much of it.
The island even plays a surprising role in America’s origin story. Providencia was the destination of the Seaflower—sister to the Mayflower—which carried its own band of Puritan dissidents hoping to start a new life in a new hemisphere. Their great experiment failed, and the disasters that befell them offer us a new understanding of western colonialism as a whole, and have repeated themselves in interesting and instructive ways within the Caribbean and on Old Providence itself.
As Tom Feiling told Joe Parkin Daniels of the Guardian in a discussion about Bad Lucky Goat, “Until relatively recently, Providence enjoyed good connections with the rest of the region, but these days it has become really isolated. It’s a great shame, as without those connections to other English speakers, island creole will grow weaker.”
The film’s director, Samir Oliveros, who is from Colombia, has endeavored to rectify that, first by celebrating the creole that most of the island’s Colombian mainland neighbors didn’t even know existed, and then by casting local non-professional actors from Old Providence to star in the film.
Bad Lucky Goat debuted in the U.S. in October. Enjoy the trailer, savor its language, and pre-order The Island That Disappeared today.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.