The CaribbeanTales New York Film Showcase, that closed CTO’s Caribbean Week in Brooklyn last month was an exhiliarating event, celebrating the exploding new Caribbean film and television industry from the heart of the Big Apple’s vast Caribbean community.
The wonderful day of film-watching and discussion included a live interview with the Mighty Sparrow conducted by award-winning Trinidad-born novelist Elizabeth Nunez.
Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, that co-hosted the event, applauded the work of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, producers of the Film Showcase, for profiling the talent of the Caribbean and preserving the region’s story-telling culture.
“At CTO we focus a great deal of our …attention on marketing the Caribbean as the world’s premier warm weather tourism destination … We do it for the social and economic benefit of the people of the Caribbean – (But) to truly benefit our citizens we need to understand their stories and to tell them with power, persuasion and passion,” asserted Riley, adding “If you really want to move from conversation to persuasion, to move both the mind and the heart, no medium can match the immersive experience we get when we sit in the dark, mind and body relaxed, focused on a film.”
Keynote speaker Mark Walton, executive vice president of Corporate Affairs at The Africa Channel, talked about strengthening the bonds of the African Diaspora. Reflecting on how similar African society is to Caribbean society, he said, “We’re not connecting the dots fast enough.” He pointed out that, “The U.N. has designated 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent and this should be a time for all people who claim Africa as their ancestral homeland to take time to understand and appreciate the impact we have made on the global society.” Walton’s family comes from Barbados.
The day incorporated two panels. The first, led by legendary producer Grace Blake, introduced new Caribbean filmmakers from Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Jamaica and Barbados who screened trailers of their latest films.
The second panel, entitled “Diasporic Synergies” and moderated by New School Professor Michelle Materre, gave those in attendance a chance to hear media producers reflect on co-ventures. The National Black Programming Consortium, Caribbean Lifestyle TV and Third World Newsreel were among those on the panel.
Concurrently, films were screened in LIU’s Spike Lee Screening Room: including two fantastic documentaries – Calypso Dreams, which chronicles the rich and complex cultural roots of calypso music in Trinidad and Tobago, and the riveting Fire in Babylon, a “joyous and uplifting film” that celebrates the Windies sporting triumph against the story of racial and political struggle that served as its background .
“The two films worked beautifully together—one resonating against the other in their tracing of the emergence of Caribbean culture and identity in the period following independence. As evidence of the growing strength of Caribbean film, they were mesmerizing ambassadors.” wrote Lisa Paravisini of the blog Repeating Islands.
The highlight of the day came when Hunter Professor Elizabeth Nunez, interviewed the iconic “Mighty Sparrow,” attracting quite an enthusiastic crowd. Mixed in with their dialogue, Sparrow enchanted Nunez and those present by singing snippets from his lyrics as the audience sang along.
Extracts from the interview are here on Repeating Islands: How the Sparrow Became Mighty! by Lisa Paravisini
Read More about the Showcase here:
The CaribbeanTales New York Film Showcase was supported by The Africa Channel, Barbados Tourism Authority, Bay Gardens Resorts (Saint Lucia), Brammer’s Subway of Brooklyn, Bullzii Marketing, Caribbean Cookbook by Rita G. Springer, Caribbean Lifestyle TV, Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Consulate General of Barbados in New York, Caribbean International Network (CIN TV), Cockspur Rum, Creatively Speaking, cynergy spa, Distribution Specialist Michelle Materre, Dwa Fanm, Falco Ink, Funsation4 Media, Great Huts Resort (Jamaica), OCEAN Style Magazine, Spanish Court Hotel (Jamaica), Third World Newsreel, Tribeca Film, and ZYNC TV.
About CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution
CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution is the first full-service film distribution company in the English-speaking Caribbean, and aims to become the go-to solution for producers and buyers of Caribbean-themed content. The company holds marketing events through the CaribbeanTales Film Festival Group, and provides co-production services to producers. CTWD was founded by award-winning filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, and its principals include creative industries expert Dr. Keith Nurse (chair), economist and businessman Dr. Terrence Farrell, media personality and producer Lisa Wickham, and filmmaker and writer Mary Wells. CTWD is a member of the BIM Ventures family of entrepreneurs.