By Alicia Sealey
Celebrating film, culture and excellence, CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with an offering of 39 films over eight days in September.
It held its media launch recently at the Trinidad & Tobago Consulate to a packed room of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, dignitaries and well-wishers. But the night belonged to the festival’s founder, Frances-Anne Solomon.
Asked to explain the relationship between the festival to its parent company, CaribbeanTales (a registered Canadian charity) she explained, “The aim of CaribbeanTales is to provide a platform for the development of Caribbean filmmakers.”
All 39 films have been placed into themed categories: Trini To De Bone, Caribbean Sci-Fi, #AllBlackLivesMatter, Vanishing Legacies 1 and 2, Deported, Caribbean Masculinities, Perceptions, Border of Love, Movement of the People, Jamaican Symphony, Caribbean Bohemia, Art Connections, Family Day, After The Exodus, and Queer Caribbean.
Each night will feature two themes. For more info about the films and to see trailers where available, check out www.caribbeantales.ca/CTFF.
CTFF runs Sept. 9 to 19 at the Royal Cinema in downtown Toronto. Its opening night film is a 90-minute feature-length docudrama entitled PAN! Our Music Odyssey, a Trinidad & Tobago / France co-production directed by Jerome Guiot and Thierry Teston. Written by Kim Johnson, it tells the story of the birth of the steelpan.
Fulfilling its mandate to provide a platform for Caribbean filmmakers to showcase their work, CTFF will also feature films from Barbados, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
During the festival there will be an official competition for the CTFF Jury, and Audience Awards. Most of the films will be eligible for consideration (16 feature-length and 30 short films). Winners will be announced on CTFF’s closing night.
Running concurrent to the film festival is the sixth-annual CaribbeanTales Incubator Program, open to selected filmmakers. It provides an opportunity to attend workshops geared toward further development of the filmmaker’s creative and business skills. It culminates in The Big Pitch where filmmakers get to present their projects to international funders and buyers.
Asked what her vision is for the next 10 years, Solomon replied, “my vision is to see the company become a vertically integrated, multi-faceted conglomerate like the Sundance Institute.
“They are an American charity. They do training. They fund filmmakers. They have a television station. They do distribution and they have a video-on-demand.
“So that end-to-end structure where you can create and nurture a range of filmmakers where you get the best work, and then you develop that work, and you produce that work, sell it to the distribution company and make money which goes back into the creation and production of content. So it’s an end-to-end one stop shop,” she said.
“For me it has a charitable, educational element on purpose which is to build over our industry in the Caribbean region.”
Denise Herrera-Jackson, who has served on its board since its inception, when asked what the festival means to her, remarked, “It means a new way of looking at ourselves. It means giving us the opportunity to see ourselves in the big picture, to tell our stories in all kinds of ways, to hear different voices, to capture legacy, to project into the future. That’s what it means to me.”
Barry Padmore knew nothing about the festival but was invited to its media launch. “I found it very interesting and I will be bringing some of my friends to these films. I have not been exposed to Caribbean films and some of the topics and trailers that were shown here tonight are films that I will be interested in.”
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, CTFF offers a special price for early bird ticket holders. From July 8 to Aug. 8, one can buy a festival pass for $90, opening night tickets for $40 and closing night tickets for $20.