Celebrating a decade of ANYTHING is an awesome feat, so this year is a really special one for the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival!
I've worked with the festival for a number of years now, and I've continuously been impressed and inspired by its dedication to Caribbean film. When most people around the world think of the islands, sun, sand, beaches, and temporary vacation bliss generally come to mind. But for those of us with roots and family and history from Cuba to Jamaica to St. Vincent to Trinidad, the Caribbean means much more to us - and that more is what we want the world to see. Using art to tell Caribbean/diasporic stories isn't new, but finding new ways to accomplish that narrative creation through cinema is CaribbeanTales' aim.
Similarly to Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood, the Caribbean looks to be the next hub for film. It's crucial to have a creative outlet to share our histories, present-day experiences, and imagery for the future - and it's extremely crucial to create a self-sustaining industry that provides opportunities for people in front of and behind the camera.
This year marks the 10th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, and possibly the best lineup of films I've seen. #AllBlackLivesMatter nights focusing on stories around diverse expressions of Blackness, Queer Caribbean night highlighting LGBTQ film, films on mental health in the Black community, shifting perceptions of masculinity, natural hair, and more are all covered in this year's film lineup. Running alongside TIFF, this timing provides both healthy competition and room for partnership with CTFF, but ultimately provides an option for cinephiles who want a more diverse range of films to watch. Not only does CTFF have films made by Caribbean filmmakers and those of Caribbean heritage, but a large number of this year's films were made by women - something I have been highly aware of, particularly with the rise of Ava DuVernay (especially after hearing her speak at the 2015 BlogHer conference).
This Sunday, I'll be hosting the #AllBlackLivesMatter night, featuring a screening of Cristo Rey, a film from the Dominican Republic directed by Leticia Tonos. A Romeo & Juliet story set to the background Dominican/Haitian relations, this film entertains and educates at the same time. After the screening, I'll be hosting a talk back featuring Ramabai Espinet (a Trinidadian professor of English and author) and Ramón A. Victoriano-Martínez (a Dominican professor of Law and author). Co-presented by Dr. Eric Pierre, Hon. Consul General of Haiti, we'll get into a discussion on the film and the themes of identity highlighted within it.
Get tickets for Sunday (and for the rest of the festival - running 'til Sept. 19th) and use the code ctff2015-bee for a discount!
If you're in Toronto, be sure to support #CTFF2015 by attending a screening or two. In the years to come, CaribbeanTales will undoubtedly play a key role in the development of a Caribbean film industry - support diverse film and storytelling, and be a part of the movement!