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TRINIDAD | Producers, director of award winning film may be heading to court

Garth St Clair and his wife, Natasha Nunez, Garth St Clair and his wife, Natasha Nunez,
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 10, CMC – It’s a film that that has been seen at 20 film festivals in the Caribbean, North America and ­Europe gaining widespread commendation.

Now it appears that those behind the award winning film “Trafficked” are heading to the courts over ownership as well as financial compensation.

Garth St Clair said he and his wife, Natasha Nunez, told a news conference that they raised an estimated TT$945,000 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) for director of Quirky Films Sean Hodgkinson to produce the film that tells the story of a group of friends on vacation who are unwittingly lured into drug trafficking.

But the husband and wife team claim they are yet to receive the final uncut version of the ­movie, as the rights of ownership are under question and Hodgkinson wants the pair to pay to him TT$200,000 to secure the master.

TraffFlanked by music business consultant Fabien Alfonso, attorney Timiola Ade-John and Richard Cornwall, chief executive officer and vice president of the Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Collection Organisation, St Clair presented a document providing an overview of the ownership issues of ­Trafficked and a detailed breakdown of the financial accounts.

Among the contributors is the British High Commissioner with St. Clair saying that the idea for the movie was conceived by himself and his wife along with Hodgkinson.

“If we had come together and pooled our funds, and thrown a barbecue, it would have been a private battle. But the funds came from government and state agencies.

We got permission from Ministry of Health and NADAPP. I had to get permission from NADAPP director Wendy Ann Wattie. After he (Hodgkinson) got $945,000 plus profits, he is insisting we pay him $200,000 if we want the film,” said St. Clair, who along with his wife also hosts a radio programme on drug abuse here.

St Clair and Nunez were inspired to have a movie on drug trafficking after having spent several years interviewing Trini­dadians imprisoned in the United Kingdom and the United States.

They said they wanted the movie to serve as a deterrent to substance abuse, drug and human trafficking.

Trafficked was released in September 2015.

“We are in the process of sending a pre-­action protocol ­letter to Hodgkinson and Quirky Films. It was never about money fame or glory. It was about educating the public and raising awareness and trying to support to some of the people who inspired the story behind the film,” said attorney Ade-John said:

“Unfortunately, they have been prevented from doing what the film was intended for. It is about setting the record and exercising their intellectual rights to Trafficked. We are seeking a declaration of their rights and a full account of the profits and redistribution for their intended profits and charities who were intended to benefit.”

St Clair said: “If we had come together and pooled our funds, and thrown a barbecue, it would have been a private battle. But the funds came from Government and State agencies. We got permission from Ministry of Health and NADAPP. I had to get permission from NADAPP director Wendy Ann Wattie. After he (Hodgkinson) got $945,000 plus profits, he is insisting we pay him $200,000 if we want the film.”

In a statement, Hodgkinson said he would not comment on the matter and “you have to speak to my attorney,” ­Jason Nathu, who is quoted in the Trinidad Express newspaper on Friday as saying that St Clair and his team made multiple inaccurate statements.

“We strongly refute the allegations made and have sought the advice of our attorneys-at-law to defend our name. We have sought legal advice with regard to the owner­ship of the intellectual property rights in this film and have been corresponding with St Clair on these issues since June 2016.

“Our attorneys-at-law have been actively engaged in discussions with two previous lawyers representing the interests of St Clair. It is particularly regrettable previous discussions between the parties in an ­attempt to resolve this issue amicably have broken down….” Nathu said.

  • Countries: Trinidad_Tobago