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Best of CaribbeanTales makes regional debut

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

The Best of CaribbeanTales Film Festival closed last Tuesday in Barbados, ending two weeks of film screenings, workshops and the Caribbean Film Marketplace, a forum for film-makers to pitch their products to distributors. The festival was making its debut in the Caribbean, after artistic director and founder Frances-Anne Solomon had established the Caribbean Tales festival in Toronto, Canada, in 2006.

Also on the schedule of events was a one-day symposium on global distribution, master classes with director Julie Dash and cinematographer Franklyn 'Chappie' St Juste, and a special effects workshop with make-up artist Adzil Stuart.

Mary Wells, associate director of The Best of CaribbeanTales Film Festival, described "an incredible feeling of excitement, fulfilment and a great feeling of hope by all the film-makers and other stakeholders that attended, were present and involved" as the festival closed officially last Tuesday. "We see the light at the end of a dark tunnel ... finally," she told
The Sunday Gleaner
in an email interview.

She said the objective is "to urgently create a proper structure and platform for the professional development and the international distribution of one of the most important creative industries, film. Even though it's a beginning and still in an infancy stage in the Caribbean, CaribbeanTales served for all its attendees an important exhibition space and as a film market, a first in the Caribbean".

With public screenings of Caribbean films in the cinema, Wells said there "was an incredible public

response and there is now regional, international and local
response to support it and have it continue next year".

She said the "CaribbeanTales Film Festival wants to be a conduit
and vehicle for the proper structure, development and distribution of Caribbean
film, both within the region and worldwide, whose activities will go far beyond
just the festival".

With that in mind, the global distribution symposium was a
critical part of the festival and was placed in pole position on day one. Wells
said that it was very successful. "We wanted no 'talk shops'. We wanted action
and practical know-how to move forward as an industry and that's what we've
ignited," she said.

directing experiences

Julie Dash is the director of
Daughters of the Dust
The Rosa Parks Story
. The objective of her directing master class was "to
share her pertinent directing experiences on a Hollywood film set and the
various important nuances of film directing. She did this by showing film clips
of some of her most prolific films and we chatted and were able to get a sneak
peek of her everyday experiences and challenges as a film director. It was
interactive and shared, as participants could ask questions and share their
experiences as well".

"It was a very full session and very well received," Wells said.

The schedule of films included
Africa Unite
Calypso Dreams
(Geoffrey Dunn),
Carmen and Geoffrey
(Ras Kassa),
Rain Nurse
(Maria Govan),


(Charles Officer),
The Solitary Alchemist
(Mariel Brown) and
Coolie Pink and Green
, an experimental short exploring Bollywood images
in a Caribbean context (Pat Mohammed).

Wells said there were no comedy or action movies "in the
traditional sense".

"There was a lovely Barbadian kind of musical that was funny, but
not really a comedy, called
Trapped in an Elevator
by an emerging
Barbadian filmmaker, Rommel Hall," Wells pointed out, "and a small documentary
from Trinidad,
The Power of the Vagina
, by Jimmel Daniels. Again, not
really a comedy, but very interesting, enlightening and amusing.

"There were many wonderful film entries. Many," Wells emphasised.
"One film that comes to mind is a short film called

The Legend of Buchi

, a high-quality short drama from Curaçao, a beautiful slave story,
beautifully shot, that deals with the careful undermining of the Black man and
Black dignity in the New World. And there were so many others."

The film-makers who had films screened at the first Best of
CaribbeanTales have not come away with awards. Wells said "as the festival is a
first in the Caribbean (but celebrating five years having operated in Toronto),
it does not yet have competitive categories for 'awarding films', but in the
marketplace we wanted to give cash awards. Unfortunately, it was very difficult
to raise all the funds we needed to do this, but for next year this will be
done! Regardless, we managed to have a local Barbadian production house donate
for an 'in-kind' prize, two weeks' worth of equipment and personnel with a 'RED'
camera to any film project that qualified, so as to get an idea fully shot or
going to the next stage! A wonderful Barbadian film project, a famous murder
mystery, won that prize".

Having made its debut and the signs for next year's staging
appearing positive, Wells said the festival "is en route to becoming bigger,
better and bolder, an important vehicle for the production, exhibition and
distribution of Caribbean film".