By RON FANFAIR
Just days before Martinique’s first feature-length animation makes its North American premiere at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF), “Battledream Chronicle” – an animated science-fiction series adapted from the film of the same name – captured “The Big Pitch” prize and the People’s Choice Award at the eighth annual Caribbean Tales market incubator program that ended last Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Lightbox.
This initiative was created to help producers raise financing and find matching funds, connect with appropriate buyers and assist with making their products market-ready. Participants are provided with invaluable networking opportunities with industry colleagues from Canada, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
On the last day of the six-day incubator, the participants made a three-minute pitch to industry professionals.
Award-winning animation film director, Alain Bidard, pitched “Battledream Chronicle” that tells the story of a young girl and her classmates who struggle to succeed at school during a futuristic age where everyone is a slave and must bring 1,000 experience points monthly to their master in exchange for their life.
“This had everything,” said Entertainment One’s Canadian television division president, Jocelyn Hamilton, who was one of the judges. “He pitched it really well. We all knew what this show was going to be. It had a really cool concept associated with it. This too is a very difficult genre to sell around the world right now in television because of video games. Action adventure today is told very mercifully in the video game world and so to do a television show is a pretty tough sell. He, however, has all the makings to do it. He’s passionate about it obviously and he already has a film he has done to help that along.”
Bidard, who graduated from a computer graphics university in France, said the incubator was more than a learning process.
“It was a life experience for me because of the many talented people I met,” he said.
His 108-minute film will be screened on Saturday at 6 p.m. at The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street.
An animated comedy web series and a drama-suspense mini-series were second and third, respectively.
Trinidad & Tobago screenwriter and multi-platform media producer, Kafi Kareem Farrell, created “Big Man Dan” that follows the hilarious antics of a man with a magnetic attraction to trouble and a talent for telling tall tales.
“The incubator provided us with an opportunity to shine and become diamonds,” said Farrell after receiving the runner-up award.
This was her first visit to Canada.
Juliette McCawley, who also hails from the twin-island republic, was content with finishing third.
“When you do film, it could be lonely and discouraging sometimes,” she said. “But when you get into settings like this and people say ‘we like your idea’ and they give you an opportunity to grow, that means a lot. The mentors that we had not only brought experience, but kindness and humility. It was also a great pleasure working with other Caribbean filmmakers. We all have these great stories that need to be told.”
McCawley, who spent 15 years in the United States and China before returning to her native T & T a few years ago, pitched “Bitter Fruit” that tells the story of a woman’s journey from poverty, rejection and heartbreak to success and fortune, only to face the ultimate betrayal.
Bidard, Farrell and McCawley graduated to the Caribbean Tales Incubator nine-month Production Support Program (PSP) that takes projects from pitch to production.
Last February, Cable & Wireless Communications, which operates the Flow brand, announced an exclusive five-year partnership agreement with CTFF. Under the agreement, Flow – as lead sponsor – will support CTFF’s incubator to develop unique content for the region.
TIFF’s artistic director, Cameron Bailey, took time out of his busy schedule to attend “The Big Pitch”.
“We want to see more voices up on screen,” he said.
Bailey also paid tribute to veteran film and television producer, Claire Prieto-Fuller who was one of the judges.
“She’s the start of everything,” he said. “She was there from the very beginning and she inspires all of us.”
Married to American filmmaker Charles Fuller, Prieto-Fuller – who migrated from Trinidad & Tobago in the early 1970s – co-founded the Black Film & Video Network (BFVN) in 1988 as a strategic resource for Black writers, producers and directors and produced several films that explore the lives of Blacks in Canada.
A former executive producer of “Echo” for Sun TV, Prieto-Fuller produced and directed “Some Black Women” in 1977, the first film made by independent Black filmmakers in Canada and produced and line-produced “Lord Have Mercy”, the first Caribbean-Canadian sitcom. She and ex-husband, Roger McTair, co-produced and co-directed “Home to Buxton”, which aired on TVO, CBC, Vision TV and PBS stations in the United States and she co-directed “Black Mother, Black Daughter” and directed “Older, Stronger, Wiser” for the National Film Board, which she worked for as a New Initiatives in Film producer.
Prieto-Fuller also produced “Jennifer Hodge: The Glory and the Pain” that paid tribute to the life and groundbreaking work of Hodge whose pioneering projects in the 1980s established the dominant mode in African-Canadian film culture, and served as executive director for Alison Duke’s debut documentary feature, “Raisin’ Kane”.