Tag Archives: Frances-Anne Solomon

ARTSY FARTSY: Caribbean Film Screening With Gems of the Caribbean

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Frances Anne Solomon w/ representatives from Islands of the Caribbean

Last summer, I heard about a Caribbean film festival that was going to be taking place in Toronto. My love of the arts and my unyielding Caribbean pride pushed me to send an email to the media contact, asking if there was any way I – a small, local blogger – could get involved. I wasn’t expecting much of a response, but lo and behold, I received one. From that moment, I started volunteering with the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, and I’m back for another run this year!

A little background: Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution is a company founded by filmmaker Frances Anne Solomon, which seeks to celebrate Caribbean film, support Caribbean filmmakers, and build up the Caribbean as a viable and valuable artistic market. A Toronto-based film festival has been part of Caribbean Tales’ offering to the world, and this year marks the 8th annual Caribbean Tales Film Festival.

This weekend marks the kick-off of a new partnership between Caribbean Tales, Islands of the Caribbean (a tourism board conglomerate representing Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, St . Lucia, and St. Vincent), and the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). August 17th, 18th, and 30th will be the Gems of the Caribbean Screening Series at the CNE, and it is going to be DOPE. Details were revealed at last month’s Caribbean Tales Media Launch.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the tourism boards as there is a natural fit – they are promoting the Caribbean while we are marketing the brand by telling authentic stories of who we are,” stated Frances Anne Solomon, founder and CEO of CaribbeanTales.

“The Caribbean is more than just sun, sea and sand – it’s about our people, our spirit, our soul, it’s about our story. That’s why visitors are entranced by our islands – that’s why they are in love with our islands and ultimately return to our islands,” says Erica Henry-Jackman, Director of Tourism for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. “This experience will come alive on film during the Gems of the Caribbean preview nights at the CNE.”

Saturday, August 17th = Jamaica night, featuring various short films and a screening of Marley (which I saw last year and ADORED)

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Sunday, August 18th = Grenada/Antigua & Barbuda night, a.k.a. “Carnival Revelry”, featuring shorts and a screening of Mas Man

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Friday, August 30th = St. Lucia/St. Vincent night, featuring shorts and a screening of Home Again (another film I had the pleasure of seeing)

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All events start at 6:30pm. 

Gems of the Caribbean will also feature details and information about various Caribbean islands, and includes a rum sampling of the best rums in the region! Entrance to the Gems of the Caribbean screening is included with your ticket to the CNE – order online here!

For an Advance Ticket Discount, visit www.theex.com: Click on ‘guest info’, ‘tickets’ and then ‘group or promo code’ to use the unique online access code CT897794. Purchases can be made using a credit or debit card. Don’t forget to print your tickets at home for entry!

The Caribbean Tales Film Festival officially starts with a gala event and screening at the Harbourfront Centre on September 4th, and runs until the 14th. There will be free community screenings, parties, panel discussions, and amazing Caribbean film – and I’ll keep you all posted on the details!

You can find more information on the Caribbean Tales website, Facebook, and Twitter – the Gems of the Caribbean Screening Series will be held at the International Pavilion, Hall B, Presentation Theatre in the Direct Energy Centre, and more information can be found at booth #3237! See you there! 

ARTSY FARTSY: Caribbean Tales Opening Gala + Lovers Rock Recap

Last week, I found myself in the middle of a Caribbean oasis at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. The Caribbean Tales Film Festival Opening Gala took place on Wednesday, and transformed the heart of the city into a mini-vacation spot. Food, music, film, and fun – the gala had it all!

For those who don’t know, the Harbourfront Centre is an “innovative not-for-profit cultural organization that creates events and activities of excellence that enliven, educate and entertain a diverse public”. In addition to being one of the most gorgeous spots along Toronto’s waterfront, the Harbourfront Centre is a consistent supporter of arts and culture in Toronto. That being said, it was the perfect venue choice for the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, from the opening gala to all of the film screenings.

The gala kicked off in true Caribbean fashion, with a buffet of delicious West Indian food! Attendees (which included the Consul Generals of Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua & Barbuda, the Hon. Jean Augustine, and Tonya Lee Williams, among many others) milled about while partaking in some of the best jerk chicken and rice & peas I’ve had in a while. Working the Media Room, I got to connect with a number of local and international media representatives, and was very happy to see the immense interest in the gala and film festival at large.

Frances-Anne Solomon (Caribbean Tales Founder) and Allan Jones (G98.7FM)

Guest with Tonya Lee Williams (aka Dr. Olivia Barber Williams on Y&R)

Caribbean Tales Founder and Artistic Director Frances-Anne Solomon welcomed the crowd, led the audience in a birthday song for the Hon. Jean Augustine, and introduced the 48 Hour Film Challenge competitors and filmmakers. Once the official business was through, the Caribbean vibe was continued with an amazing performance by the Trinidadian/Torontonian band Kobo Town. Something was happening in every corner – interviews with filmmakers, red carpet photo shoots, couples dancing to the band, and yells of “Eh! How you goin’?” from old friends who reconnected at the gala. It was an electric hub of creativity, passion, and comradeship, and I was happy to be in the mix!

Finally, we headed from the Lakeside Terrace room to the Studio Theatre for the screening of The Story of Lovers Rock by Menelik Shabazz, a world-renowned British filmmaker. The sold-out screening was led through introductions by Tdot entertainment greats Farley Flex and Motion, with additional words from the Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago. We were treated to a a music video by reggae group No-Maddz, a hilarious short called Joyce and Herman, and trailers for all of the feature films being screened at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival. After the crowd was warmed up, we got right into Shabazz’ film, which I was highly anticipating – I adore Lovers Rock music, so I was excited to learn about its origins and cultural significance.

Media table w/ Louise Noel Ambrose (Eventobe PR) and Dessie Fanfair

With Natasha & David Green – the ’83 To Infinity gala giveaway winners!

Kobo Town performance

The film was interestingly crafted – part documentary, part scripted comedy, it took us through beginnings of Lovers Rock in 1970s Britain to today.  Interviews with Lovers Rock greats like Janet Kay and Maxi Priest gave us the origins of the music, which was born out of reggae and ska from Jamaica. With the immigration of Caribbeans to Britain in the ’60s and ’70s, young Black Brits born to Caribbean parents needed an art form to call their own – Lovers Rock became just that, which quickly blossomed into a culture and a lifestyle. The way you dressed, walked, talked, and interacted with each other was influenced by Lovers Rock, and hearing the recounts from those who lived during the time was eye-opening. Lovers Rock was respite and healing for youths who were faced with racism and identity crises on a daily basis; it was an art form in which women came to hold top ranking; and it was a musical interpretation that clearly didn’t receive the recognition it deserved, as told by the film. The most interesting sentiment for me was that of the first-generation Brits who discussed the juxtaposition of not being fully Caribbean, but not being fully British either. I felt they were telling my story as a Canadian child born to Jamaican parents, and found that I could particularly identify to that part of the film. Shabazz’ film gave us a thorough breakdown of the history of Lovers Rock music, and his passion for the story came through loud and clear. The length of the film made for a long night, being at the end of a work day and the gala itself, but I was happy to have been in attendance.

Farley Flex and Motion

The Story of Lovers Rock filmmaker Menelik Shabazz

After a short Q&A session with Menelik Shabazz and Allan Jones from G98.7FM, we called it a night. The Harbourfront Centre was silent, save for a lone caretaker who was sweeping the halls. He looked a bit surprised to see us all filing out, so I suspected that he was unaware that just hours before, Caribbean Tales had the place bursting with Caribbean flavour. It was an excellent night, and an excellent kick-off to the Caribbean Tales Film Festival!

Thanks to Trendsetters Photography for the photos!

The Caribbean Tales Film Festival runs until September 15th! Check here for schedules and ticket info for upcoming films. If you missed the showing of The Story of Lovers Rock on Wednesday, not to worry! There will be one more screening tomorrow night at Innis Town Hall (Univ. of Toronto campus), 2 Sussex Avenue at 6:30pm! Click here for details and tickets! If you were at the gala, leave me a comment and let me know how you enjoyed it!

ARTSY FARTSY: The Caribbean Tales Film Festival Is On Its Way

Last week, I shared the news (via Twitter and Facebook) that I was teaming up with the Caribbean Tales Film Festival here in Toronto. While the city is abuzz in September for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), I thought I should let y’all know that another festival will be making the city hot!

Photo source: Caribbean Tales

Let’s backtrack. Caribbean Tales is a multimedia company which was founded by wonderwoman Frances-Anne Solomon in 2001. Offshoots of the company include an educational media company, the annual film festival, and Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution – the first film distribution company in the English-speaking Caribbean. With bases in Barbados and Toronto, Caribbean Tales’ vision is to “contribute to an inclusive Canadian society by celebrating the rich traditions of Caribbean heritage storytelling”. Upon meeting with Frances-Anne and the Caribbean Tales team, I learned so much about the heart of the movement – which centres around the tenets of celebrating diversity, telling our own stories, and educating Caribbean filmmakers on navigating the international market.

Photo source: Stud Life Tumblr

So – let’s get to the film festival details! The festival kicks off on September 5th with a gala and film screening at Harbourfront’s Lakeside Terrace, sponsored by the Toronto Consulate General for Trinidad & Tobago. The opening film will be The Story of Lovers Rock by Menelik Shabazz, an incredible veteran Black British filmmaker. I love me some Alton Ellis and John Holt, so you know I’ll be up in that piece on the 5th! Films continue from the 10th-15th at Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre, and schedule highlights include The Batty Boy’s Revenge by Alison Duke and Stud Life by Campbell X (with a panel discussion on queer Caribbean cinema), A Day In A Bajan Life by Penny Hynam, and – wait for it – I’m Santana The Movie by Roger Alexis! If you don’t know about the hilarious Trinidadian puppet shorts featuring the one and only Santana, get thee to YouTube and get familiar!

Photo source: LEXO TV

The Caribbean Tales Film Festival isn’t just about screening the hottest and latest theatrical gems from the Caribbean – it’s also about educating Caribbean filmmakers so that they are able to tackle the international market, get their stories heard/seen, and put the region on the map as a market to contend with. We have Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood, so it’s time to get, er…Collywood (?) out there on the global film scene! In order to assist with this, the Film Festival has created two amazing initiatives. The 48-hour Film Challenge (headed by Michael Miller) puts Toronto up-and-comers to task – can you write, film, and edit a 5-minute short in 48 hours? Completed films will be screened during the film festival, so I can’t wait to see what our homegrown talent comes up with! The Caribbean Tales Incubator is another initiative – a 3-day workshop designed to educate Caribbean filmmakers on honing business plans, creating film and television pitches, and networking with mentors to learn how to get their films sold. In the 10 days of the film festival, I really look forward to meeting all of the Caribbean talent who make their way up to Toronto – it’ll be an exciting time in the city!

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Follow Caribbean Tales on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on festival details, and hit up Harbourfront Centre for ticket purchase – but do note, there ARE free shows too!

WANT TO WIN TICKETS TO THE GALA? I’ve got you covered!

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