Caribbean Tales International Film Festival Puts Caribbean Film Content on the Map

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BY SARA MILLER 

This September, Toronto will host the 11th annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival (CTFF). The ten-day festival highlights and celebrates the cinematic talents of emerging and established Caribbean-Canadian filmmakers who practice their skills across the Caribbean diaspora including Canada, Europe, Africa, Middle East, the Americas and the Caribbean.  Running alongside the Toronto International Film Festival happening September 8th -18th (TIFF), the CTFF is a chance for visitors and film connoisseurs to experience the dynamic mix of themes, genres and culture that the Caribbean has to offer.

For its 11th anniversary, the festival will showcase nine feature length films as well as 17 short films, which are entered in the official CTFF Jury and Audience Awards. Winners will be announced on September 17th, which is the closing night of the festival. For the opening gala on September 7th, which will take place at the historic Royal Cinema at 608 College Street in Toronto, CTFF will be showcasing the Canadian premiere of Diary of a Badman directed by United States based filmmaker, Diemiruaye Deniran. Winner of Best Narrative Feature Film at the 2015 Jamaica Film Festival, Diary of a Badman was filmed in sections of New York and New Jersey. Featuring a cast of mostly Jamaican and African-American descent, the film tells the story of Detective Simone Williams (played by actress and producer Jacinth Sutphin), a Jamaican immigrant whose dream is to work a high-profile undercover case and earn the respect of her co-workers at the mostly male-dominated New York Police Department. Williams finally catches a break after she gets the undercover job of a lifetime, trailing the notorious drug dealer Winston ‘Bucky’ Bailey (played by Douglas A. Robbs). However, the lines between professional and personal begin to blur as a Williams falls victim to Bucky’s charming and charismatic personality, compromising her assignment and testing loyalties on both sides. Showtime for this film starts at 8:00pm with tickets priced at $25 (includes reception and screening). Tickets can be purchased on the official CTFF website at www.caribbeantales.ca.

Other films set to showcase at the festival is Culture Clash, a feature full-length documentary directed by Haitian filmmaker, Jean-Rene Rinvil. Through a series of interviews, Culture Clash brings second-generation Caribbean immigrants together to discuss the challenges that children of immigrants face in holding onto their heritage while embracing American culture. Made in 2014, the film gives a rare Caribbean perspective and voice to the Caribbean immigrant that is not usually heard. The documentary is the recipient of the Best Documentary award at the Haiti Movie Awards. It has also screened at the 2014 Belize International Film Festival as well as the 2015 Chicago Caribbean Film Festival. Showtime starts at 8:00pm on September 14th at 608 College Street. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the official CTFF website at www.caribbeantales.ca.

One of the defining things about the CTFF is how the films chosen to show at the festival cover a wide range of genre and themes that represent different communities. On September 16, at 8:30pm, the Hispanic screening of God Willing, Yuli (Si Bondye vle, Yuli) is one film not to be missed.  Directed by Jean Jean, the film is about a Haitian woman named Yuli who has lived in the Dominican Republic for over 35 years. When her child, now an adult, travels back home to visit, he soon discovers that his mother needs help fixing her living situation due to the Regularization Plan that was created by the Dominican government. What makes this film so powerful is that the character Yuli represents the thousands of Haitian citizens who are being forced to cross invisible borders outside the Dominican Republic. She reveals their daily struggles and gives viewers an inside look on how it feels to be a foreigner in your own land.

Representing the French and Francophone community, CTFF will feature three notable French films including the animated feature, Battle Dream Chronicles directed by Alain Bidard, Ti Coq, directed by Nadia Charlery and Kamelo, directed by Jean-Claude Bourjolly. The CTFF is also proud to showcase films representing the LGBTQ community. Rainbow Revolutionary directed by Kaneal Gayle, documents Jamaica’s first Pride week celebration. The documentary is emotional and ground breaking as Gayle manages to capture the raw emotions of the Jamaican LGBTQ community as it happens.

Films aren’t the only things going on at the CTFF this year. From September 6th to the 11th, the CTFF will host the 8th annual CaribbeanTales Incubator Program (CTI), which includes five weeks of online training with one week of intense (but well worth it!) in-person workshops in Toronto. Cumulating at the Big Pitch located at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, participants from the Big Pitch will then graduate to the nine-week program called the CTI Production Support Program (PSP). In the PSP program, mentors will guide the participants through the process of film making from pitch to post-production. And for the first time ever, program attendees will receive pilot funding for their projects from lead festival sponsor, FLOW.

For more details on the films being showcased during the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, including scheduling, times and ticket prices, please visit www.caribbeantales.ca.

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