A new director and plans for this year’s Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) were unveiled at a press conference at the Trinidad & Tobago consulate last week.
Monarch Park Collegiate Institute and University of Windsor graduate Malinda Francis, the festival’s associate director since 2011, is excited to assume added responsibility.
“One of my main goals is to build community partnerships to bring access of Caribbean film throughout Toronto,” said Francis, who was a video instructor with Children’s Peace Theatre, multi-purpose space co-ordinator with Walnut Studios LOFT, video editor with Muskrat Magazine and City of Dreams and media co-ordinator with LIFEmovement Media before joining CTFF.
Two special community screenings on July 26 and August 30 precede the ninth annual festival that runs from September 3-13 at the Royal Cinema, 608 College St. The July 26 family afternoon screening takes place from 1-4 p.m. at Malvern Public Library, 30 Sewells Rd. and the August 30 event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Black Creek Farm, 4929 Jane St.
A total of 10 feature length and 20 short films with Caribbean themes will be shown during the festival. The opening night film is The Glamour Boyz Again: Sparrow, which makes its world premiere at the festival.
It showcases a remarkable acoustic performance by calypsonians The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior, which was filmed during the production of Calypso Dreams in 2002 on the rooftop of the Hilton Hotel overlooking Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad & Tobago.
T & T consul general Dr. Vidya Gyan Tota-Maharaj praised Caribbean Tales for capturing Caribbean-themed stories and distributing them in different formats.
“Stories of our Caribbean people and culture need to be told to the world,” she said. “This festival gives the producers, directors and actors an opportunity to showcase our local talent and expose to the world our beautiful landscape of Trinidad & Tobago and all the Caribbean islands together.”
Tota-Maharaj said T & T is committed to the development of the film industry.
“As part of the economic diversification thrust, we are shifting our dependency from oil and gas to non-energy sectors such as the film industry for developing the twin-island republic,” she said. “The government is giving a 30 per cent rebate to companies which produce films in T & T as an incentive.”
Solomon started the CTFF, Incubator and Worldwide Distribution after returning to Toronto 14 years ago from England, where she worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a TV drama producer and executive producer.
“We started the distribution arm in 2010 because it became clear to us that it wasn’t enough to show film,” she said. “We needed to get involved in the business of selling them, building audiences and creating a brand for our product. Everyone is familiar with Hollywood and Bollywood. What there wasn’t in the marketplace at the time was a sense of Caribbean film as a brand. We set about creating a Caribbean brand in film to establish an audience so that filmmakers could tell their stories, people would pay for them and we could develop a sustainable industry. This is not a hobby. It’s a business and something you should be able to make a living at.”
The company also has a news and television arm.
In addition to securing charitable status this year, Caribbean Tales has acquired significant funding from the European Union to build distribution networks for Caribbean films.
“This is a sector that’s growing,” said Solomon. “Caribbean stories are our stories and it’s important for us to tell them.”
The CTFF will once again stage a market incubator from September 4 to 7.
The incubator program 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.
By RON FANFAIR