Karen Marks

On the Parkway
Artistic Discipline: Film/Video
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2022

“On the Parkway” is the first documentary feature film to explore the history and future of Brooklyn’s annual West Indian American Carnival, four days of celebration over Labor Day weekend, culminating in a parade that attracts three million people, making it the largest parade in North America. The documentary traces the dramatic rise of West Indian Carnival in New York and explores how and why this Brooklyn tradition has lasted for over 55 years. It illuminates the work required to produce an event of such magnitude, and the event’s enduring place in a rapidly changing city. The film focuses on J’Ouvert, the night to dawn street celebration which traditionally heralds the start of Carnival in the Caribbean. In Brooklyn, it happens before the West Indian Day Parade. We follow the dynamic leaders of Pagwah Mas, a J’Ouvert band which has won the competition eight times, as well as artists, organizers, politicians and participants. The film reveals the challenges that organizers face in creating this influential Carnival and the inspiration that keeps it going each year.

Image by Karen Marks