We are weeks away from film festival season in the 416. Watching movies is one of my favourite things to do – from big blockbuster light and fluffy to the dramatic storytelling of life’s deeper journeys. Film festivals usually showcase independent filmmakers telling stories that reflect a variety of real, authentic experiences. That’s a big difference from the cookie cutter format of story lines mandated by a corporation for mass consumption.
Toronto is best known for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) happening Sept. 5-15, 2019, but running along side the renowned festival is the Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) Sept. 4-20. In its 14th year it is not as well known as TIFF but a gem for movie enthusiasts – whether they are Caribbean nationals and descendants or from the wider multicultural community. This years selection spans the Caribbean from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominica, Haiti, U.S Virgin Islands to submissions outside the region inclusive of Suriname, Guadalupe and Africa.
There is an unexplainable joy and sense of oneself when the character’s on the big screen reflect your image, culture and its nuances, whether it is comedy, drama or animation. It is simply: acknowledgement of your existence. And there is also a slight – maybe big – difference when a story is told from the female perspective. Of course, the films are for everyone regardless of culture, ethnicity or gender because there will always be something in the story, the culture, that will resonate and remind you of your own.
The Caribbean Tales Film Festival is well represented with works from female directors; below you will find excellent options to add to your festival “must see” list.
Ms. Sugga is a short film directed by Mary Wells from the island of Jamaica. The short film features a strong, feisty animated sugar cane stalk that travels in time with two kids (Tamika and Omar), and a wise African Chief (Tacky). The four make their way through history, encountering characters from the past.
Venus and Magnet
The ten-minute short film Venus and Magnet is about a bond between a dog and a chicken. Elspeth Duncan from Trinidad and Tobago directs the short film. In a world where diversity often divides, Venus, Doggess of Love, proves that no matter how different we are, we can still be friends.
The short film Three Minutes, directed by Juliette McCawley, from Trinidad and Tobago, is about a couple who get more than they bargained for while awaiting the results of a pregnancy test.
March of the Mokos
A short film, March of Mokos is about an old African ritual that found expression in Trinidad’s traditional carnival. Directed by Kim Johnson and inspired by the most famous carnival in the Caribbean, the twenty-four minute short March of the Mokos displays carnival in a historic yet captivating manner.
In 2017 Jason Jones, a human rights activist, filed a historic constitutional motion against the state, challenging colonial-era anti-homosexual laws in Trinidad and Tobago. The short film Judgment Day, directed by Francesca Hawkins, opens up deep divisions between civil rights activist and politically influential religious groups.
Click Caribbean Tales Film Festival for a full schedule and list of films.