A local film is seeking to inspire Caymanians to return to a healthier lifestyle through using coconut oil. It will premiere at Regal Cinemas at Camana Bay on 28 November.
“Bright Spot” is a documentary created by filmmaker Rob Tyler and holistic nutritionist Tamer Soliman. The duo were inspired by Jerry Sternin’s idea.
Mr Sternin was able to identify successful and traditional practices in poor Vietnamese villages that had fallen by the way side. He called these practices “Bright Spots,” and advocated their return to solve child malnutrition in the villages.
Rob and Tamer identified coconut oil as Cayman’s bright spot and through interviews with experts and locals they set out on a journey to discover why the oil has become rare in many homes and how it can be re-embraced.
“Despite coconut oil being in harmony with traditional dishes, coconuts were being sent to the local dump and vegetable oils were lining the shelves of the Cayman Islands grocery stores and kitchen cupboards. I came to understand that convenience and westernisation played a part in the diminished use of this local food. With modern research claiming that coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and warning people of the harms of highly-processed vegetable oils, I felt that there was no better time to educate and inspire people to re-embrace coconut oil,” said Tamer.
“As much as this documentary is about getting people to change their oil so that they can change their health, it is also about, as Sally Fallon states in the film, ‘Trusting our ancestors’ and re-discovering foods that are whole, familiar and nutritious. My belief is that by developing a collective health consciousness around coconut oil in the Cayman Islands, we will see a difference in the health of the people of this beautiful country. It’s time for an oil change,” he added.
The 22-minute-long production was filmed in Cayman and took ten months to complete. Over the course of those months both filmmakers learned more about the history of the coconut in the Cayman Islands through interviews, museums, local historical magazines and casual conversations.
Rob said, “Challenges were met at every corner and our story constantly hit new hurdles and took unexpected twists when we least expected them. For me it was the organic nature of this story that kept my interest and slowly turned what was at first a fun idea into a project I became completely passionate about. Tamer’s own passion for nutrition and his genuine motivation to change people’s health is infectious! From a technical perspective, we tried to keep things very simple and low key and let the story shine through.”
He continued, “Tamer and I took care of production ourselves, with me behind the camera and capturing sound in the field and Tamer building relationships with our interviewees and drinking lots of coconut water! A small production crew was crucial as we were working within a tight budget and did not want to overwhelm anyone with unnecessary crew. It was so important for our characters to show their true identity as the film had such a personal and local feel to it. If I had to sum up the experience in one word… ‘Organic’.”
Executive producers Jeremy Walton and Stephen Price funded the equipment needed for the film. Various people also contributed funds to the project.
The filmmakers further acknowledged the people who participated in the film, either directly or indirectly saying that “without them, we would not have been able to go on this fascinating journey and tell this story with authenticity.”