Black Lives Matter movement places spotlight on Caribbean stories

By Jasminee Sahoye

Frances-Anne Solomon
Frances-Anne Solomon

Founder and CEO of CaribbeanTales, Frances-Anne Solomon strongly believes its current 2016 film festival in Toronto- its 11th annual – has ” better content and cinematography.”

She reported that opening night far exceeded expectations and that the Royal Theatre was sold out for the Canadian Premiere of Diary of a Bad Man  which was produced in the US with actors of Jamaican origin, who used local dialect,

Solomon told The Caribbean Camera that the Black Lives Matter Movement has placed a spotlight on stories from the Caribbean.

“There’s a dearth of space in the global market place for stories from the Caribbean and Africa, in terms of what the so-called mainstream media allow.  I feel that this is a moment when things are beginning to open up, they have to, because it’s not just a space is opening, we’re demanding that space, and so I feel hopeful.”

She added that they have started a partnership program with a number of agencies to develop better films.

“We have a short film challenge with Actra Toronto and Trinity Square to make films by women of colour and so this year, we have made two short films by women of colour.  It’s the first time we’re doing it and it’s very exciting.”

(Actra (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada.  It represents the interests of 22,000 members across Canada.)

“We have another challenge for LGBT youth of colour.  We have been doing the queer Caribbean strand for many years now, but mostly the content we have been getting to program has been from white filmmakers, but we would like to encourage film by people of colour from the LGBT communities,” Solomon added.

With some much needed capital from Flow, a cable and wireless company that serves a number of Caribbean countries, it’s expected that the best talents in the film industry will benefit from some of  the funds it provided.

This year, 10 filmmakers pitched their projects to the panel of the CaribbeanTales Market Incubator (CTI) program, now in its 7th year.

Flow is investing $1M over a five-year period, starting this year, to fund three film projects every year.

The CTI is a development and production hub for Caribbean and Diaspora producers, whose aim is to increase the volume of compelling world-class content from the Caribbean region.

The winning projects that will receive pilot funding from Flow.  The first place winner is Alain Bidard from Martinique with Battledream Chronicles, an animated science fiction fantasy series adapted from his feature film of the same name.

            Battledream, the first feature-length animation from the Francophone Caribbean will have its North American Premiere at CTFF, this Saturday, Sept 17 at 6 p.m.

In second place is Kafi Kareem Farrell, a screenwriter and multi-platform media producer of Trinidad and Tobago,(T&T) for his off-beat animation series Big Man Dan.

Juliette McCawley, an actress, director and producer, who sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company was awarded the third prize for her film Bitter Fruit, is a gripping telenovela full of intrigue and betrayal.

CaribbeanTales runs until September 17 but there will be the Canadian screening of Bazodee  on  September 21.

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