As part of its economy diversification thrust, Trinidad & Tobago is shifting its dependency from oil and gas to non-energy sectors such as the film industry which has been targeted as a major pillar for developing the twin-island republic, says T & T consul Venessa Ramhit-Ramroop.
Several international productions have recently being filmed in T & T, including Wild on E!, programs for National Geographic and the BBC, and music videos.
The government is offering cash rebates of up to 30 per cent for expenditures accrued by filmmakers while filming in the country. In addition, a dedicated film desk within the Ministry of Trade & Tourism has been created to assist foreign film crews with securing permits, coordinating with Customs & Immigration and other requirements for a successful experience.
“T & T has broken barriers and is emerging as a premier film destination,” said Ramhit-Ramroop at last week’s media launch to promote the Toronto Film Showcase & Market Access program that will run alongside the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) from September 7 to 17.
Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution (CTWD) is producing the event that will showcase the creativity of Caribbean filmmakers at a major film festival.
“This venture will indeed provide Trinidad & Tobago and other filmmakers with international exposure and recognition as it will take place alongside the TIFF,” Ramhit-Ramroop added. “Caribbean Tales is definitely taking Caribbean films to the world and for this we are very supportive and proud.”
CTWD chief executive officer Frances-Ann Solomon said the showcase will celebrate 10 years of Caribbean animation and feature the highly successful market access incubator program that connects Caribbean filmmakers with industry specialists, potential partners, funders and business strategists in an intensive three-day training program.
“Coming last year to a major film festival like the TIFF was a first for a Caribbean delegation of about 40, including 25 filmmakers,” Solomon said. “They made quite a splash. This year, we expect about 30 participants from Trinidad & Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Canadian filmmakers with Caribbean roots will also be involved in our project.”
The festival will showcase 10 films pertaining to carnival’s history and development. They include Dalton Narine’s Mas’ Man which captures Peter Minshall’s flair for costumery and Calypso Dreams that provides an intimate portrait of some of T & T’s top calypsonians.
Solomon also announced the launch of a Caribbean Tales Scholarship Fund that will allow filmmakers from the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora to attend the incubator and acquire skills in packaging and marketing their films.
“The fund allows individuals and organizations to make contributions of up to $500 to fund a filmmaker’s attendance at the incubator and in return donors will secure a scholarship in their name; they will be able to attend all of our events free of charge and meet the filmmaker they have supported,” she said.