Caribbean films close Caribbean Week

Caribbean films close Caribbean Week
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Since Frances-Anne Solomon screened A Winter’s Tale in New York in 2007, she’s wanted to see a Caribbean film festival in New York.

At LIU on June 11, a day devoted to Caribbean films was part of that dream. Entitled “Caribbean Tales: New York Film Showcase,” the full-day program incorporated screenings, panels, and engaged conversation on films, filmmaking, and getting it out there.

When Hugh Riley of sponsor Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) greeted those in attendance, his love of film was apparent as he spoke about how film “looks at what people have forgotten.”

Riley talked about film– such a different experience from twitter and social media–and how it is a medium that can move minds and hearts. He emphasized how film is a medium of power, persuasion and passion and in the dark is an “immersive experience.”

Mark Walton, the keynote speaker of the day, is the executive vice president Corporate Affairs at The Africa Channel and talked about strengthening the bonds of the African Diaspora. The Africa Channel is now available on seven Caribbean islands and “is the second most popular channel after CBC.”

Reflecting on how similar African society is to Caribbean society, he said, “We’re not connecting the dots fast enough.”

He also 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 introduced new Caribbean filmmakers from Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Jamaica and Barbados who screened trailers of their latest films and gave the briefest of their backgrounds.

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.

The icing on the day’s cake came when Hunter Professor Elizabeth Nunez, also from Trinidad, interviewed the iconic calypsonian “The Mighty Sparrow,” attracting quite an enthusiastic crowd. Mixed in with their dialogue, Sparrow would oblige Nunez and the audience by singing lyrics from his songs as murmurings from the audience were heard; they sang along.

Frances-Anne Solomon also started a film distribution company in the English–speaking Caribbean, aimed to create moneymaking opportunities for producers of Caribbean audio-visual content. It was launched in Barbados in May 2010. Her Board Chair Dr. Keith Nurse was on the panel of producers.

Their company, Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution, distributes feature films, documentaries and TV series. E-Zone is one of the TV series available where in nine programs one visits exotic and exciting destinations from Notting Hill Carnival in the UK to the World Creole Music Festival in Dominica. In Season #4, for example, episodes also take place in Barbados, Trinidad, Canada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Caribbean Tales: The New York Film Showcase was the final event of this year’s Caribbean Week.