Fierce Cinematic Duo Santia and Anaya Dean showcase 2nd Directorial film in 'Thirty'
“A film is a reflection of the story behind the lenses and eyes of its director and it is one that knows no gender, age or time, as it is both powerful and limitless.”*
‘Female Duo’ is not a common phrase in the often gender-biased global film industry, commonly led by solo directors. Thus interviewing New Providence-born twin sisters, Santia and Anaya Dean, was inspiring, as these talented Bahamian women are breaking into the media industry through film, with a triple approach (through directing, producing and writing) in their most recent short film, Thirty.
Santia and Anaya, it’s a pleasure speaking with you and with watching your film. I would love to share the film’s concept and the many facets that have brought you both into the world of cinema. Let’s first let our readers get to know you!
How did you dive into the world of film or did it find its way to you?
We have loved watching films since we were children, especially animated films like the Lion King, which created a cathartic experience for us with its iconic words: "Remember who you are...", which is our favorite film quote. This deep admiration developed into adulthood, as Anaya always had a camera in her hand, and ended up studying film-making for her undergraduate degree. I would sometimes help to direct Anaya’s films but became more interested in making films during her early twenties. We teamed up and the rest was history.
Is Thirty your directorial debut? How did it unfold from concept to reality?
Guava Duff, produced in the fall of 2017, is a 5-minute short film and is our directorial debut. It revolves around the premise that things aren't always as they seem, similar to the dessert itself - one doesn’t know the magic he/she is about to experience by just looking at the prominent Bahamian dessert. Thirty is our second short film together and is inspired by the life of our mother at the age of thirty, including her life with our father at that time.
How did it feel to open for the film Waiting by Bahamian director Leonardo Newman in mid-Spring of 2019?
We enjoyed the collaboration and was happy that Leonardo asked us to join. It was nice to see the film on the ‘big screen’ and in front of a live audience.
Which Bahamian icon has inspired you the most?
Sidney Poitier - it’s amazing that he is from Cat island which is a much more remote island than Nassau and has made such an impact on the cinematic world through his directing and acting. He has also created a path for Bahamian actors through his works in To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?. The value of his talent and presence was shown when he was the first Bahamian to be awarded the Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1964.
Which director (local or international) style do you appreciate and respect the most?
That would be Ava DuVernay. Although an essentially new face to the industry, Ava has been making waves in film despite her race and gender. She truly has a gift for giving a voice to the voiceless which was most recently depicted in her Netflix series ‘When they see us’. The piece was thought-provoking, empathetic and we’re sure it helped to change some lives. Most importantly, we learned the names and stories of the Central Park 5. Another director we currently follow is Steven Soderbergh, because of his process of film-making. He uses innovative techniques that push the medium forward. These techniques also allow for film-making to be placed into the hands of those with great stories and not just those with a lot of money.
What is your favorite type of film to watch?
We tend to like most genres of film, horror is probably the one we shy away from the most - but it really depends on the mood we're in. Great stories are what we look for.
Why do you think there are so few women in film-making and what would you say to young women wanting to pursue film (in any aspect)?
Film is a boy’s club. It’s the way it was started and it’s going to take a lot of effort to change that, but change is happening now. We would tell female filmmakers that NOW is the time to jump into film-making with full force and don’t look back.
We love the growth we are seeing within the film industry in The Bahamas, and are hoping and expecting bigger and better things to happen.
What is your view on the hashtag/movement #blackgirlmagic? Do you feel that as female entrepreneurs, you are a part of this movement?
A movement that supports and celebrates a marginalized female group of society is definitely one we would support, especially being black females ourselves.
Does working in film make you feel empowered? if so, how and why?
Being able to work in an industry that we love is empowering, but also very humbling. It’s a dream come true. For us, being females in a male-dominated industry is an adventure.
Santia and Anaya have also supported local cinema organizations through the Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) where not only was their film Guava Duff submitted, but they volunteered at one of BIFF’s fundraising events in 2009 and Anaya has worked with the festival in 2011. To keep in touch with these passionate filmmakers, learn more about Duet Studios, stay updated on debuts, events and acting opportunities, follow Santia and Anaya at Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo. You may be able to meet the sisters at this year’s festival, as they plan on attending as patrons!
*Quote created by Mechelle A. McDonald-Sweeting