Film Director Joel Ayuk (centre) with event coordinator Sofia Carti-Codrington (left) and Chargée de Mission Fatima Boukhari (right). (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT--The movie “Chokehold”, the first full-length feature film made by producer/director Joel Ayuk featuring a mix of local and international actors, is to have its much-anticipated premiere at Caribbean Cinemas (Megaplex) Saturday, November 25, at 8:00pm in two screening rooms.
An after-party will follow at Villa Jardins de Bellevue.
Preparing to shoot a scene for the movie “Chokehold”.
A resident on the island for 22 years, Ayuk is the President of Constant and Never Ending Improvement (CANI), producer of the film. There is also CANI TV, a TV channel in existence for the past seven years. CANI TV’s purpose is to educate by using the communication tool of media and film-making to reach the local population, the region and the wider world.
Filmed entirely on location on both sides of the island, “Chokehold” took three years to complete in two phases and focuses on domestic abuse, a worldwide issue. The story revolves around a policeman who is struggling to maintain a family life at home while confronting his own demons. Ayuk wrote the script and developed the screenplay during the pandemic lockdown, over about a year.
It is not his first foray into film-making, although his speciality is making commercials and documentaries. In 2019 he made a short film with the domestic abuse Safe Haven Foundation on the Dutch side called “Struggle”. The film was shot in one long 19-hour day, on the French side because of budget restrictions. Local actors and crew were involved.
“After that experience, and encouraged by the positive feedback, I was asked by those who watched it to make a longer film with more content,” Ayuk explained. “That was a challenge, because I had never attempted a feature film before. First of all, it’s a very expensive undertaking, and secondly, you have to find the right crew. And the way I work as a producer I want to make something of the same calibre as films in Hollywood or France.”
Ayuk said the subject matter was something he really wanted to delve into deeply, knowing that domestic abuse is very prevalent on the island. “I even experienced it around my neighbourhood, and as a creative person I couldn’t just stay silent. Domestic violence happens all over the world. In fact in my research I found out that domestic violence increased by 34% worldwide.”
The locally-produced film features an outstanding international cast, including acclaimed Netflix actor Enyinne Nwigwe who plays the lead role as Mike. The film also stars Jamaican actress Sherando Ferril as Victoria and Brely Evans who plays Victoria’s sister. Other actors are Nigerian actor Kenneth Okolie who plays Victoria’s brother-in-law.
Also in the film are actors Oremeyi Kareem, Simeon Henderson, and Victoria Duchene from St. Martin playing a therapist. Duchene starred in “Tradewinds” back in the day. Another local actor is Rosanna “Roxsy” Castillo, and a child actor from St. Martin, Aliah, has the role of Candace.
The technical crew to make the film was sourced from Guadeloupe and Martinique. Several other professionals in the cinema industry from the USA and Canada agreed to work on the project, lured by the Caribbean sunshine.
Local companies, comprising about 60 persons, worked on the film behind the scenes. A deejay from French Quarter who was trained on the set by professionals on recording sound became the sound recordist for the film and the make-up for the actors was done by make-up artists from St. Martin.
The film has generated considerable interest. Discussions have begun with Netflix to show it on that platform and film festivals are also interested. The film has a second premiere in Jamaica on December 3.
“This project goes beyond traditional film-making; it’s a part of my endeavour to bring a hidden struggle into the open. Association Cani TV Studios believes in the transformative power of storytelling – it’s not just about entertainment, but about opening hearts and minds.
“I hope this film sparks empathy, and understanding, and ignites much-needed conversations. My vision is to contribute to a movement of healing and change, making a difference one story at a time,” Ayuk concluded.
Regular-price tickets cost US $50, which includes the premiere and movie delights, or VIP tickets $120, which includes the premiere, movie delights and access to the after party.
Tickets can be purchased on line at
www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/choke-hold-movie-premiere-tickets, or from Dauphin Telecom, SOS Radio, Enoch’s Place and Van Dorp and Triple 9 Signs on the Dutch side.
Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to domestic abuse foundations, one on each side of the island.