Kareem Mortimer: “I really, really like daiquiris”

Filmmaker Kareem Mortimer’s tips on the best spots for a cocktail in Nassau, plus lots more advice on enjoying his hometown — as told to Sonia Farmer

Eighteenth-century Queen’s Staircase, a highlight of any Nassau tour. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of TourismHistoric downtown Nassau. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of TourismHistoric Villa Doyle, home of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of TourismKareem Mortimer. Photograph courtesy Richard Von MaurOne daiquiri, coming up. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of TourismPiping hot conch fritters. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of TourismTwin Brothers on Arawak Cay claims their daiquiris are world famous. Photograph courtesy the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Kareem Mortimer has travelled all around the world to make and promote his award-winning films, but there’s nothing quite like home for the Bahamian filmmaker — which means Nassau, on New Providence Island, and a few tucked-away places that truly bring out the culture of the archipelago.

Mortimer — whose films, like the award-winning Children of God and I Am Not a Dummy pay witness to marginalised Bahamians — has seen the filmmaking scene grow over the past decade, since the advent of the Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF). Historically, filmmaking in the Bahamas has its roots in a predictable span of film genres — fast-paced spy films like the James Bond instalment Thunderball, drug-running tales like Into the Blue, and buccaneer legends like the Pirates of the Caribbean series — but over the past decade, provocative films made by Bahamians have challenged the one-dimensionality of these stereotyped settings, and the trend shows no sign of stopping.

“When I was first starting out, there were only a few Bahamian filmmakers making films locally,” Mortimer says. “That has changed. I am meeting so many people making films here every day, because they have a venue” — the festival — “to aspire to.”

“The programme at BIFF is the most exciting part. I’m always inspired by the films available — you get a lot of surprises,” he adds. “The panels are always really great and informative too. I’ve made important connections.”

If you’re in town for the rich offering of local and international films at BIFF 2012 — which runs from 6 to 10 December on Paradise Island — Mortimer recommends taking a trip across the bridge to mingle with locals in Nassau proper, and discover what Bahamian culture is all about.
The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
“The visual arts are really well supported in the Bahamas, and it shows in the quality of work produced here. The National Art Gallery has a great director and curator, and they’ve really developed something special. During BIFF they will have the sixth National Exhibition up, with the theme Kingdom Come. It will be one of the strongest contemporary exhibitions in the Caribbean.”

Islandz Tours
“A great informative tour of art spaces in downtown Nassau. There are a couple of gems hidden in the streets, and this tour reveals some historical and contemporary art in that small radius. It’s really eye-opening. Downtown is small and compact, and the tour guides know a lot about the city.”

Western end
“Because I really, really like daiquiris, I’d suggest visiting this little daiquiri stand out in the western part of the island, in front of the caves on West Bay Street. It doesn’t have a name but the daiquiris are made with fresh fruit, and are the best on the island. If you go a little further west to Gambier Village, near the church, there’s a man who makes one of the best conch salads on Nassau, and he makes it right in front of you.”

Kyla’s Island Philosophy
“This little drink stand is right on Junkanoo Beach downtown, and also across the street from my house. You can chill, you can people-watch, you can go for a swim, and Kyla makes really fresh drinks. She’s a friend of mine and she is super friendly, so she will sit down and have a chat with you. This is one of the busiest beaches on Nassau, with lots of drink and food shacks, but Kyla’s is the best experience. I always meet people when I’m there.”

Captain Andy
“Get a group together and call Captain Andy. He’ll take you on a really great day excursion to Rose Island — which is technically not in Nassau, but a nearby island with an incredible beach and a bar called Sandy Toes. Great activities, food and drinks, and it’s very affordable. Captain Andy has a large personality. At night, he also runs a bar in Nassau called Crazy Johnny’s — it was started by a man named Johnny Brown who apparently liked to swing from the rafters while performing in his band. Now it’s a great place where local bands come to rehearse and perform. You can reach Captain Andy at 242-429-6650 or captviking@aol.com.”

Arawak Cay
“Arawak Cay is a collection of restaurants that’s a hangout for locals on the weekends. I have three favourite places there. One is Oh Andros — they have really great affordable food. Another is Twin Brothers, for their daiquiris, which they say are world famous — but I just love them, I love the sugar. They also have great conch salad. And then Frankie Gone Bananas for a more “high-end” Arawak Cay experience, though I don’t know what that means when it comes to Arawak Cay. One of the more major Junkanoo groups practices nearby around the time of BIFF, so it is a great place to catch some local music and energy, probably on a Sunday night.”

Downtown nightlife
“Crew Pub on East Street North isn’t a standout bar, but you’ll have a good time there — it’s good people, good music. It’s my neighbourhood bar, because I live downtown. It’s not pretentious. There’s also Via Caffe on Parliament Street, towards the water, where sometimes on the weekend they have live music and really great desserts and coffee. After that, Bambu is place is for late nights. I don’t go often, but when I do it’s because I want to keep the party going a little bit longer with some contemporary dance music. There are usually both the cruise ship crowd and the local crowd. I’ve had some really great nights there.”

 


Air Jamaica operates regular flights to Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport from Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica, with connections to other destinations