“In my films and photographs, I like to explore ‘connection’. Often aiming to connect the dots between seemingly disparate subjects - connection to self, connection to nature, connection to the divine, and connection through time. It is my aim to shine a light on our Caribbean ‘beingness’ and present an alternative to the current unsustainable global hegemony which threatens to envelop us.”
Growing up between Dominica, the US, & the UK, Michael Lees became acutely aware of the many intangible “priceless” things that exist in abundance in the Caribbean - often overlooked - such as pristine nature, community, heritage, and a good work-life balance. His series of Moving Forward, Looking Back series of photographs allow his audience to pause and ponder on these everyday ‘assets’ that are constantly under threat as Western-style development constantly seeks to infiltrate our existence. His pieces are at times testament that we are left facing the consequences - climate change being a major one.
Michael Lees is a Dominican award-winning filmmaker and photographer whose work focuses on the themes of nature, development, and our relationship to the natural world. Michael graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he transitioned from majoring in business at the Kenan-Flagler Business School to a degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Media Production, minoring in Business & PPE (Political Science, Philosophy, & Economics).
In 2017 Michael ventured into the forests of Dominica planning to document a 6 month communion with nature and one’s innate ability to be nourished by his environment. But it was not to be, within a few weeks, he faced a 7 hour ordeal with the region’s deadliest storm, Hurricane Maria, alone in his collapsed palm leaf and bamboo hut. Out of this experience and documenting other Dominican’s survival stories, Michael released his debut documentary, ‘Uncivilized’.
The film premiered at the Trinidad Film Festival in 2019 and went on to screen at festivals across America, Europe and the Caribbean. It won the Caribbean Spirit Award in 2020 at the Barbados Independent Film Festival, as well as the best documentary at the Cinestar Festival in Guadeloupe in 2022.
Lees has written, shot, and edited for clients including National Geographic, Lonely Planet, UNICEF & Billboard. He has exhibited his photography work at national exhibitions as well as the OECS exhibition Climate Change: An Eastern Caribbean Journey.
Michael is an Executive member of both the Waitukubuli Artist Association & SHAPE (Society for Historic Architectural Preservation & Enhancement).
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