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