A few years ago, while I was on Staniel Cay working on my film, “Exuma,” I met an amazing woman named Joan Mann. She was already quite elderly at the time but it didn’t seem to have slowed her down much. She was energetic and inspired and kind and quickly became a friend. She had sailed down to the islands in the early 60’s on an 18 foot boat with her husband and three young children in search of a simpler life and had lived on the island ever since. She was an extraordinary woman who was a part of the community for a very long time and was loved by all.
I decided to interview her, not with any particular objective or motivation, but rather to capture a little bit of her story and recollections of early life on the islands while she was still around. After realizing how much of the island’s history she held, I decided that I should put the interview on disc and make it available to the public at the Staniel Cay Library. I got caught up however in the seemingly endless sea of video that I was shooting and it fell by the wayside for a few weeks and then a few years. Joan died last week and, while I wish I had put this interview online earlier, I’ve finally retrieved it from my archive and gotten it posted. My only regret is that I didn’t do subsequent interviews with her to record a little more of her remarkable life. Our 45 minute interview doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
This interview took place nearly three years ago today in May, 2010 at her home on Staniel Cay. Our conversation wandered a fair bit so I’ve tried to compile everything into sections that make a little more sense and cut out some of the random questions and disruptions in between. Other than that, the interview is completely unaltered. Joan spent a lot of years trying to capture the beauty of the Exumas with a paintbrush and the closing lines of narration in my forthcoming film are inspired by and dedicated to her and her paintings. I’m sure most people who crossed her path were similarly inspired. If you know anyone who knew Joan, please pass this along to them.