Stephen Weir wraps up this year's Caribbean Tales Film Festival in Toronto
Winning viewers for Caribbean Movies in Toronto and Trinidad
By Stephen Weir
The biggest news for the just completed Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF), took place not at home in Toronto but in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was announced last week that Frances-Anne Solomon, the head of the CTFF, and a filmmaker herself had just won the People’s Choice Award at the Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival
Ms. Solomon, in addition to spearheading the Toronto festival, has been hard at work all spring and summer completing her own film. That movie, HERO -- Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Ulric Cross, was previewed and premiered at the CTFF in Toronto and then rushed down to Port of Spain to be shown in competition in their T&T film festival a week later.
The film is the first Trinidad / Canadian feature length film to be premiered and previewed in both country’s keynote festivals in the same year. The movie tells the story of a man who leaves T&T in 1941 to join the RAF, where he becomes the most decorated WW11 West Indian serviceman. Post war, Cross moved to Africa to work as a government lawyer for several emerging countries.
HERO opened the 13th annual CTFF early in September and set the bar high for the 30 films that were screened over a two-week period at seven screenings. Overall, organizers are happy with the results of this year festival. There were new programmes added, there was expanded outreach to Hamilton filmgoers, and attendance, with one notable exception (an evening of LGBTQ theme films) was strong.
“Our LGBTQ screening is always the lowest attendance, from what I saw on the other nights our screenings were quite successful with full cinemas,” Maya Bastian, the festival’s Marketing and Partnerships Manager told the Caribbean Camera. “I worked hard to increase numbers at our LGBTQ screening this year, and we did have an improvement”.
This year for the first time, there were three feature length films – (US) Bruk Out, Rockers (JA) and Green Days by the River (T&T) that were shown weeks in advance of the festival at the Royal Cinema to perk up interest in the coming Caribbean festival. AS well, there were more community showings of Caribbean films in 2018 in a variety of locations including Hamilton, Regent Park and Harbourfront.
“Rockers was very successful! It's part of a partnership we have started with The Royal Stompbox music series,” continued Ms. Bastian. “CTFF is in talks to do more screenings like this and the sold-out dance hall documentary Bruk Out screening we held in March.”
Last week a full house packed the Scotiabank Theatre for the closing night of the Caribbean Tales Film Festival and the screening of It Stays With You directed by Cahal McLaughlin and Siobhan Wills. The film was shot in Haiti’s Cité Soleil, a severely economically depressed neighbourhood to examine the impact of the 2005-2007 crackdown on criminals that left scores of civilians dead or injured.
“As the 13th annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival comes to a successful close, I am proud to be a part of the continued celebration of our Caribbean filmmakers “and our stories,” said Associate Festival Director Diana Webley, “The winners of this year’s awards encompass everything that our theme calls for by leading the way, spreading their message and focusing their light on change.”
Winners in the following film categories were announced:
BEST Feature - Unfinished Sentences directed by Mariel BrownBEST Documentary - Incursion directed by Sasha-Gay Lewis.BEST Short Film: Kinto directed by Joshua PaulIntersect Award: Passing directed by Lucah Rosenberg-Lee and J. Mitchel ReedCaribbean Spirit: Hearts of Steel directed by Gayle WilmotCineFam Award: Sin Ayo directed by Elizabeth Francisco