A former CFTO-TV general assignment reporter, now an independent film producer residing in Antigua is back in Toronto to release her and her spouse’s fourth feature film.
The Skin, produced by Mitzi Allen (formerly Benjamin) and written and directed by her husband Howard, makes its North American premiere at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival tomorrow night at Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre.
Set in Antigua & Barbuda, the 100-minute feature length film is a supernatural thriller combining a modern twist and old Caribbean folklore.
The cast includes Jamaican-born Canadian actor Peter Williams who was the primary villain Apophis in the first four seasons of Stargate SG1, Jamaican Carl Bradshaw who appeared in Smile Orange, The Harder they Come and Third World Cop and Scotsman Jeff Stuart who is best known as PC Reg Hollins in the long-running British police procedural series The Bill.
“When you look at the calibre of actors we were able to attract, this is by far the most ambitious project we have undertaken,” said Allen, the managing director of Howard and Mitzi Allen (HAMA) Inc, which owns and operates HAMA TV, an independent cable channel. “They are both veteran and established.”
Shot in the summer of 2009, The Skin was screened in Antigua last June and in neighbouring Montserrat a month later.
Allen said the Antigua government fully supported their latest project.
“Because of our track record and credibility over a long period of time, the government provided us with some funding and facilitated the project in many ways,” she said. “We don’t have a film commission, so there are no funds set aside to promote the creative industry and capitalize on the potential to market the country abroad.
“The other challenge we have is not in the making of movies even though resources are limited, but in the distribution and ensuring that our rich products reach an international audience and market.”
The Allen’s first feature, The Sweetest Mango, released in 2001 is a romantic comedy that recounted the couple’s love story after they met in 1991. It was the first feature film to emerge from the Eastern Caribbean and the biggest grossing film ever to show in Antigua. Its cast included Antigua & Barbuda’s Consul General in Toronto Janil Greenaway.
No Seed, a political drama and Diablesse, a humorous look at Caribbean folklore, were released in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
Allen, a St. Joseph’s College School and Humber College journalism graduate, came to Canada at age seven and worked at Channel 47 briefly prior to joining CFTO-TV where she spent five years up until 1991.
“I returned to Antigua that year for vacation, fell in love again with the country of my birth and met a wonderful man who is now my husband,” she said.
There will be a reception, co-hosted by the Antigua & Barbuda Consulate in Toronto, starting at 6 p.m. prior to tomorrow night’s red carpet North American premiere of The Skin at 7.30 p.m.
The audience will have the opportunity to interact with the Allens and some of the cast members after the screening.