man with video camera and another man with headphones
Provided Behind the scenes of “We Love We Self Up Here.” Cornell students Austin Lillywhite (left) and Afifa Ltifi (slightly visible besides) with filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam.

Film co-produced by Natalie Melas wins award

The Award for Film and Video from the Society of Architectural Historians has been given to the film “We Love We Self Up Here,” produced by Natalie Melas, associate professor of comparative literature in the College of Arts and Sciences and Tao DuFour, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. The documentary short was directed by filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam.

The film explores narratives of lived experiences of urban, agricultural, and industrial landscapes tied to colonial and postcolonial legacies of sugar production and hydrocarbon extraction in Trinidad & Tobago. It grew out of a Mellon Expanded Practice Seminar co-taught by Melas and DuFour in fall 2019: Atmospheric Pressures: Climate Imaginaries and Migration in the Caribbean. The course included a week long field trip to Trinidad.

"We Love We Self Up Here" trailer

The film is a truly interdisciplinary project, Melas told the Cornell Chronicle in 2021, bringing three very different viewpoints to the project, each of which transformed the film in different ways: “That of an architect and spatial theorist attuned in a particular way to the landscape of the island because he grew up there, that of a student and critic of Caribbean literature and thought in comparative context and finally that of the fine-hewed aesthetic and technical expertise of the filmmaker.”


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Kannan Arunasalam/Provided Behind the scenes of “We Love We Self Up Here.” Subject Henry Soolachan at his home.