An international outlook and rebellious spirit are at the heart of everything St Vincent and Grenadines filmmaker Akley Olton does. This risk-taking creative refuses to conform and though he started his career studying accounting and business, he quickly aligned his skills to pursue a future painting and making films. He won a scholarship to study in Cuba, so it’s no surprise that Latin American culture resonates with him, and he often draws on the region’s concept of magical realism as inspiration.
His short film, Black Doll, which screened at festivals in Canada, the Caribbean and France, questions beauty ideals for girls. Having seen his niece play with blonde blue-eyed Barbies, he was concerned about the effect that this would have on her self-esteem and sees it as an issue across the island. By casting his niece and mother in the film, Olton harks back to the Latin American way of storytelling, a throwback to the oral stories of bygone eras, which Olton feels are being lost. “We used to spend evenings listening to our grandmothers but when the computers and TVs came, that stopped happening,” he says. “I want to recapture some of that interaction between my grandmother and her stories.”
Watch Black Doll trailer here
Interview by Olivia Atkins