By Rosalba Rolón.

“We’re small, but not the smallest island. Surrounded by water on all four sides of the island. From our tallest mountain we can see other islands far away. All surrounded by water, as islands are.” I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. This is what we hear from the moment we learn to talk, to read, to understand life around us. This is generally followed by “But we are big inside.”

How small? How big? How do we go from here to there? No. Growing up in an island is not the same as growing up in a non-island. And growing up in an island like, say, in the Caribbean is not the same as growing up in an island linked by a bridge to a non-island extension of land, like Manhattan. And yet, we’re both islands.

The 21 ISLANDS project at Pregones/PRTT was born three years ago. After completing a round of trips to different countries, some of them islands, I began to think about creativity and island life. What, if anything, influences the way one thinks, behaves, even dreams. Because, after all, some dreams may hit a wall if you believe your life can’t extend itself beyond the surrounding waters.

For artists, resources in an island may be different from those with easy access across borders –well, some borders. And so Pregones/PRTT’s artistic team began to work on an idea: to bring to our stage works that are conceived, developed and produced by artists living and working in islands in various parts of the world. To date, we have presented artists/companies from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Canary Islands and Hawaii. And we will continue until we reach 21.

I admit I became restless, wanting to show as many islands as possible as quickly as possible. In a conversation with our Musical Director Desmar Guevara, who had just returned from a film festival produced by Cinefiesta in Puerto Rico, we began to brainstorm about the possibility of a showcase of shorts created in 21 Islands around the world. Great idea, big challenge. We had never produced a film festival!

So we partnered with filmmaker and curator Melisa Ramos, who is associated with Cinefiesta in Puerto Rico, turned on the ignition, and off we went! Working as a team, with Melisa and our Assoc. Artistic Director Jorge Merced, we set up a work schedule. Nearly 1,000 films from more than 100 islands (countries, territories, possessions, island-cities) began to stream in. Films as short as 2 minutes and no longer than 20 were accepted. Experimental, animation, comedy, drama, sci-fi – there is no thematic limitation. We wanted to see how far the human imagination can take us whether we live in an island or not.

We thank Melisa for all the knowledge she brought to the dialogue, as we selected a review panel, created visual and narrative content for our website, and organized the sequence of each of the 7 Screenings.

Thank you all who are coming this weekend to join us as we launch the first edition of 21 ISLANDS INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FEST. As a special bonus, Cinefiesta provided several films from Puerto Rico as a gesture of friendship with Pregones/PRTT. This weekend, we are screening 64 films from 21 Islands, organized in 7 different screenings.

Here is a link to the Festival schedule:

Have you seen the trailer created by Melisa Ramos? If not here is!

And, if you read this blog before the Festival ends, we are offering you a special code so you can purchase your ticket at $0 cost. Yes! Free for all our blog readers. Just go through the process of purchasing the ticket and write in the CODE: 21ISLAS and you can come as our guest.



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