By Michael Lashley
I do not want to create any more tantana, confusionment and senseless rivalry by continuing to speculate irresponsibly as to the nationality of The Divine Authority at the time(s) when said Creator set about creating the multitude of arts and forms of artistic expression which we, mere mortals, decided to group under the umbrella of “culture”.
What I will say is that I am overjoyed at the growing strength of the Caribbean film industry and at the role played by individuals, groups and organizations in the many successes achieved over the last five decades or so.
Among the pioneering forces that have taken the industry to new heights internationally is the CaribbeanTales movement. I call it a movement because it has spawned several organizations and projects to carry out the various activities that serve to build the Caribbean film industry into a vibrant artistic community and a commercially viable aspect of Caribbean life.
Its engine-room is right here in Toronto, because a lot of the driving and innovative force that propels it is generated by Frances Anne Solomon and her Toronto-based team of enthusiastic and talented collaborators.
And also because the highly successful CaribbeanTales International Film Festival is a key feature of Toronto’s cultural calendar.
But that is only a small part of the CaribbeanTales story. The full family saga plays itself out every single day in the many branches and roots that have spread widely in all four of the language communities of the Caribbean (English, Spanish, French and Dutch). The creole-speaking communities of Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyane and the former Dutch Antilles have their full ancestral home status in this glorious saga.
When those tentacles went from the Caribbean to Canada and the USA, they had absolutely no intention of stopping there. So the CaribbeanTales crusading caravans have now invaded the rich cultural heartlands of South and Central America, having already made significant inroads into Africa and Europe.
This year’s CaribbeanTales International Film Festival runs from Wednesday September 07 to Friday September 21 at the Royal Cinema, 608 College Street in downtown Toronto.
Each night on September 7, 14 (two sessions), 15 (two sessions), 16 (two sessions), 17 (two sessions) and 21, at least one full length film and one short film are presented.
For each night’s presentations there is a theme. The ten themes, taken together, give a colourful panorama of the range of experiences in the social life of the Caribbean: CARIBBEAN LOVE; TRINBAGO TO THE BONE; MIGRANT TALES; LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR; LBGT LOVE; REVOLUTIONARY LOVE; BLACKLOVEMATTERS; ANIMATED LOVE; and WALK GOOD. There are special programs for the Opening Night Gala (Wednesday 07) and for the Grand Finale on the closing night (Wednesday 21).
After a cursory review of the films and shorts being featured, my curiosity is piqued by the following selection: Diary of a Badman; Re-percussions: An African Odyssey; Dreams in Transit; From Dirt; Trafficked; Rainbow Revolution; Dying Swan (with Peter Minshall); My Silky Blue Frog Shortz; 50 Years of Black Activism; God Willing, Yuli; Dreadlocks Story; and Bazodie (with Machel Montano and Natalie Perera).
I am fully aware that I have mentioned almost half of the films and shorts. But I am moved by the opportunity to see so many presentations that focus on our Caribbean and Latin American realities.
On the substantive artistic issues, I am also sensitive to the videography and photography techniques, the use of plots and sub-plots, the narrative techniques, the quality of the acting, the stage and lighting designs. In short, I am moved by everything that conveys and heightens the messages that a film contains.
In previous years, I was at able to meet and listen to many of the film directors as they shared their experiences, their motivations and their dreams for the Caribbean film industry.
The CaribbeanTales movement, including specifically the Festival, is a “picture-perfect” example of effective and constructive Caribbean integration.
And it is particularly significant and successful because it also fully engages and includes the Caribbean people in the diaspora.
I encourage all of my readers to make their own selections and to take advantage of the wealth of artistic pleasure that the Festival offers.