Wednesday, 12 July 2017

CaribbeanTales International Film Festival Celebrates Caribbean Legacy

By Neil Armstrong

Celebrating at the media launch of CTFF at the Royal Cinema in Toronto on July 6, 2017 are: left-right -- Haynesley Benn, Barbados consul general; Shakirah Bourne, filmmaker of 'A Caribbean Dream'; John Reid, CEO, Flow/Cable & Wireless; Frances-Anne Solomon, executive director, CTFF; Nicole Brooks, CTFF incubator manager; and Sharon Lewis, director of 'Brown Girl Begins.'   Photo credit: DAYO Media & Communications

Patrons of the 12th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) from September 6 to 21 will have an offering of 14 feature films and 30 short films from 18 countries.

Timmia Hearn, outreach and marketing manager, described this year’s programming as amazing, noting that a dozen years is a legacy.

The media launch was held in partnership with the Consulate General of Barbados in Toronto on July 6 at the Royal Cinema in Toronto and featured the Canadian premiere of “A Caribbean Dream.”

Directed by Barbadian Shakirah Bourne and produced by Melissa Simmonds, the film offers a Bajan take on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Haynesley Benn, consul general of Barbados at Toronto, said at its core, “the festival is a great opportunity to learn about the Caribbean, its people and all of the stories that make the region so unique and memorable.”

“As a woman filmmaker it has been so hard to have a voice, as a woman of colour,” said Frances-Anne Solomon, executive director of CTFF, who was proud to be presenting filmmakers, Sharon Lewis and Shakirah Bourne.

There was a special presentation of a trailer and featurette of Lewis’ film that has been 15 years in the making, “Brown Girl Begins,” inspired by Nalo Hopkinson’s award-winning novel, “Brown Girl in the Ring.”

“At 12 years old, CaribeanTales has worked since its inception to create a brand for Caribbean cinema, not divided by country, inclusive of diaspora that brings together our separate and collective legacies, our unique distinctive and authentic stories. The festival provides a platform for us to come together across all of our differences to have a meaningful conversation about who we are as a global community.”

Solomon said her work at the BBC in the UK inspired her to seek “to create, produce, market and sell our stories to a rapt audience.”

“Our stories are critical to our survival,” she said.

John Reid, CEO of FLOW, lead sponsor of the film festival said it is an important partnership for his company.

He noted that the partnership has expanded through the CaribbeanTales Incubator (CTI) and described the making of films as a spectacular industry.

The CTI is a year-round development and production hub for Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora producers that aims to create strong, compelling and sustainable content for the global market.

Its ultimate goal is to increase the pool of world-class indigenous film and television content so as to build the region’s audio-visual capacity.

Nicole Brooks, manager of the CTI, who participated in the third year of the incubator noted that it is celebrating eight years.

There are ten 2017 incubator projects by filmmakers from countries such as Canada, Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Barbados, and Haiti.

The opening gala on Sept. 6 themed “Epic Caribbean Legacy” features the world premiere of “Battledream Chronicles – Series,” the Caribbean Region’s first animated television show with an all-star Pan-Caribbean cast. It is directed by filmmaker, Alain Bidard, of Martinique.

The cast includes Joseph Marcell, best known for his role as Geoffrey in the American sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”; Alison Hinds, queen of soca; Sheldon Shepard of the award-winning 2010 Jamaican drama, “Better Mus’ Come”; and Jamaican multi award-winning actress and icon, Leonie Forbes.

The feature presentation of the night will be “Machel Montano: Journey of a Soca King,” directed by Bart Phillips of Trindad and Tobago.

“Pimento and Hot Pepper – The Mento Story,” a film directed by Rick Elgood will be the feature presentation on Sept. 14.

“Originally, in Jamaican music, there was Mento. It was, not only the name of a musical style and a type of band, but also a song form, a rhythm, and a dance. And yet for a century, Mento music and its performers have hidden in plain sight. This documentary explores the origins of Mento and where it is today,” notes a synopsis of the film in the 2017 CTFF programme guide.

CTFF is produced by CaribbeanTales Inc., a registered Canadian charity that aims to connect people through film.

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