Mary-Rebekah Reyes staring into the camera with name of film in the background.

Family, filmmaking, and folklore

November 6, 2023




U of T Mississauga alumna teams up with her brother to get into the movie-making world and reinvigorate Trinbagonian tales

by Carla DeMarco as originally reported on Oct. 23, 2023 at

Although Mary-Rebekah Reyes and her brother Romario have been making art and exploring storytelling all their lives, collaborating on film production is new territory for them both. But they are hooked, and even more, working with family is their favourite part.

Short Drop, a short film they made together – Romario was the writer and director and Mary-Rebekah was the executive producer – has made the rounds at film festivals over the past few months, notably the Film and Folklore Festival in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2023, as well as the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival this past September in Toronto, and will be celebrated at a special watch party at UTM on October 25, 2023.

“Romario brought this project to the fore for me and I completely fell in love with it,” says Mary-Rebekah on a recent interview on VIEW to the U podcast.

“I just said ‘we need to produce this, we need to get it done right now,’ and that’s what we did. Plus, Romario is literally one of the most prolific artists that I personally know, and I just always think I need to find a way to let everyone know about this individual named Romario Reyes.”

Mary-Rebekah, who has a HBA degree in Art and Art History from U of T and Sheridan, returned to her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago after graduating in 2022, and is carving out her own path as an artist, an academic, and a film producer. But being back home in Trinidad and Tobago amongst her family of artists is a major influence on everything she does.

Her parents, who are both highly esteemed artists and art teachers, have shaped her sensibilities, but the long line of creativity is deeply rooted in the family.

“My dad, who is the youngest of his 11 siblings, comes from a family who are all artists in some shape or form of the word,” says Mary-Rebekah.

“My aunt is an interior designer, my uncle and my dad are both two of the most prominent art teachers in the country, and then all my uncles are skilled artisans, who can build anything that you ask them to build or make anything. It’s because my grandfather, their dad, Alvin Reyes, was a sign painter and they all worked in his workshop. I believe his dad, Malcolm Reyes, used to make shoes. We just have it in us, and it has just been cultivated in Alvin Reyes’s workshop.”

Her brother Romario is an artist, animator, and film director based in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. Film has always been a particular passion for him, with many influences along the way, including Japanese manga artist Kentaro Miura, American filmmakers Zack Snyder and Martin Scorsese, and the TV show Breaking Bad, which Romario said very much inspired Short Drop. He states that it is his family that encouraged him to make films in the first place.

“I can’t say that directing is something I always wanted to do, but my family just saw it within me before I could have seen it within myself,” says Romario.

“But now it’s become a real interest and passion for me and I want to continue on, writing and making my own stories, making our own stories.

Short Drop is based on a classic Trinbagonian tale, and now Romario and Mary-Rebekah are focused on bringing more of these folkloric stories to life on the big screen.

“We have these spooky stories to tell at night that are part of our oral tradition,” says Mary-Rebekah. “Our approach is to bring new life into these stories that are somewhat fading away because people don’t really talk about them as much.”

“Our folklore is fixed in a particular time, and storytelling hasn’t transcended since or reached the modern era, so they don’t always translate well,” adds Romario.

“We want to show how these stories adapt to us and exist in our timeline right now. We want to keep these stories alive but also move them forward in a new way.”

Now that they have tested out the filmmaking territory, the pair are just looking to the next collaboration on the horizon because, as Romario puts it, there is “no one else” he would rather be on this journey with than his sister and his family, who have also contributed to Short Drop in various ways, including film editing, graphic art, and cinematography.

Mary-Rebekah and Romario currently have a couple more film projects in the works and they continue to write, research, and seek out the next story to tell as a team.

I always want to find a way to support and build my family up, build the people around me up, and support the creativity,” says Mary-Rebekah.

“If I had to place my bets on anybody, I’ll place it on Romario because I trust him 100% and I want the absolute best for him.”