BY EMILY SINGH
Film is one of the most powerful and effective means of mass communication. It has the ability to educate, inform, connect and most importantly inspire. The islands that make up the Caribbean region are overflowing with stories that simply need to be told, and what better way to do so than through film. The Caribbean Tales Film Festival is in its 11th year of celebrating and showcasing the talents of filmmakers of Caribbean heritage from across the globe. One of the greatest feelings one experiences when visiting the Caribbean is the overwhelming amount of love and hospitality. It is only fitting that this year’s theme for the 2016 festival is “Caribbean Love”. Love is something that cannot be explained though a single definition, the question “what is love?” is perhaps one of the most philosophical questions that can be posed. From September 7th to the 17th Toronto’s very own Royal Theatre will screen a series of films that will showcase the many faces of Caribbean love.
The opening night gala on September 7th will feature a film entitled “Diary of a Badman” directed by Diemiruaya Deniran. This high intensity modern day crime drama puts a spin on the typical male dominated field of law enforcement. The central character is a woman who aims to climb the ladder of the New York Police Force through going undercover to investigate the activities of a budding drug dealer. Throughout her undercover stint she finds herself questioning herself and her main motive as her relationship with the charismatic criminal intensifies.
“Nyctophilia” is a short film directed by the talented Javier August Nunez that is set to premier on September 15th. “Nyctophilia” which is defined as a preference for night or darkness is a film that tells the story of a self-victimized woman who is confined in her apartment, as she battles a mind controlling type of evil.
During the festival’s official media launch on Wednesday I was fortunate enough to catch up with Nunez to find out a little about what went into creating this film.
“The most difficult part was the confidence to finish it during the filmmaking process, it is a journey. You have a script but anything can happen, things can change so quickly. It is an unexpected journey but it also one of the things we most enjoy,” says Nunez.
On July 3rd pride month in Toronto came to a colourful closing as the city came alive during the highly anticipated Toronto Pride Parade that took over Church Street and Bloor Street. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is home to people of every culture and background. In addition to creating a welcoming environment to those who now call Toronto home it also celebrates and embraces its LGBTQ community. Love knows no race, creed, sexual orientation or gender; it is something that is universal. Unfortunately, in many parts of the Caribbean the LGBTQ community continues to fight for their right to love freely in a safe and accepting environment. Leslie Lee Kam’s film entitled “My Silky Blue Frog Shortz” puts a humorous spin on a story that is reflective of her own journey growing up as a lesbian in the Trinidadian community.
“The story is about myself being queen and my changing body image. There is an underlying subtext of seriousness but it is an overlying quirky film with humour to make the seriousness a bit lighter. The most difficult part of this entire thing was actually coming out and telling my story and talking about my health challenges,” says Kam. “The homophobia levels are rising in the Caribbean and it is up to our government to make changes from the top down. We are human beings like everyone else and it is despicable what is happening in the West Indies. All we ask for is compassion, dignity and respect.”
This is just one of the many films that highlight LGBT love and some of the struggles that the community faces. However, one film in particular that stands out is entitled “Rainbow Revolution” that showcases the events of pride week 2015 in Jamaica. Often times the media portrays Jamaica as being one of the most homophobic countries in the world. Controversial music lyrics in particular bring a sense of negativity to the LGBT community. Kaneal Gayle’s film looks at how individuals in Jamaica rise about this negativity and celebrate their sexual orientation loud and proud.
This amazing festival could not have been made possible without the strength, determination and leadership of Frances-Anne Solomon. A jack-of-all-trades, this talented woman is the backbone behind Caribbean Tales and its continued success year after year. The Caribbean Tales Film Festival is a truly unique event that aims to promote love and unity within the community through the power of film. For more information on film schedules and tickets please visit www.caribbeantales.ca/CTFF.