There’s an old Trini saying: ‘Trinis are like salt, they in everything’. The phrase rings especially true when you realise that one of Hollywood’s biggest directors is of Trini descent.
English filmmaker Sam Mendes – director of the recent war drama 1917 – is of Trini lineage, the grandson of Brit-Trinidadian author Alfred Mendes …and the man who inspired the film.
The film, which premiered only a month ago, has already earned Mendes a Golden Globe for Best Director. And during his speech, he dedicated the award to his grandfather, saying: “He signed up for the First World War, he was aged 17. And I hope he’s looking down on us. And I fervently hope it never, ever happens again.”
1917 has taken Hollywood by storm, earning a multitude of award nominations, including 10 Academy Awards nominations three of which are for Mendes himself. The Academy Award nominations come 20 years after his first win for best director for the iconic film American Beauty.
It won two of three nominations at the Golden Globe Awards; eight nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards and nine nominations at the British Academy Film Awards. It was also chosen by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year.
The epic war film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Strange) and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), is an unflinching exploration of the violent realities of war, following two British soldiers as they try to make their way through enemy lines in France during World War 1.
Since his directorial debut in 1999, Mendes’ has earned quite the stellar resume as a film and stage director, producer and screenwriter, creating some of the biggest films in the industry. He’s directed the crime film Road to Perdition, Jarhead, the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, to name a few.
He is also known for his dark re-inventions of the stage musicals Cabaret and Oliver!, and he has earned a Tony Award for the play The Ferryman and produced the Showtime series Penny Dreadful.
Mendes’ work has led Queen Elizabeth to appoint him CBE for “services to drama”, and he was knighted in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of Great Britain. And, in 2008, he was ranked at 15 of the ‘100 most powerful people in British culture’, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Not bad for a Trini.