Caribbean Film Festival to embody flavors of tropic islands

Oh, the joys of college film festivals!! Tara Donaldson, writing for The Daily Orange—Syracuse, New York’s student paper, describes a very odd-sounding Caribbean film series.

It was the directness of the title, “The Power of Vagina,” that got Kimmie Parris thinking the Caribbean Cinematic Festival sounded interesting.

“It’s just very thought provoking,” said Parris, a graduate student studying Pan-African studies. “I really want to see the way sexuality is played out in the film.”

That piqued interest is exactly what Tanya Johnson Ruffin hoped for. The director of education at the Community Folk Art Center outlined the content of the Caribbean Cinematic Festival, which will take place Feb. 9-12.

“We wanted to have a diversity of voices in the films and things that would make people go, ‘Hmm, I want to check that out,'” Ruffin said. “It’s films with meaning, not just films for films’ sake.”

The films will be screened in CFAC’s black box theater, which seats about 100 people. Students can buy tickets for $3 per film or purchase day passes for $7 for Friday, Feb. 10, and $12 for Saturday, Feb. 11. Tickets are still available for all films.

The festival is part of the center’s yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary. During the four-day event, CFAC will screen eight feature and short films that touch on subjects ranging from the history of the Caribbean diaspora to Rastafarian culture and social sexuality issues.

It took most of the summer to watch the 30 films originally considered for this festival and narrow them down to just eight, Ruffin said.

But with films from the United Kingdom, Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad, Ruffin said the festival effectively covers snippets of the culture.

“There’s a lot of diversity in the films, just like in the Caribbean community,” Ruffin said.

The opening night feature film is “The Story of Lovers Rock,” which details the history of slow, romantic reggae, or lovers rock. The film explores how the music defined a generation and provoked multicultural unity during a period of riots and racial tension in the UK in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Beyond the screenings, CFAC will also host discussions led by professors and local community members following each film. With some of the more risqué titles, like “The Almighty Penis” by Jimmel Daniel, which highlights issues in men’s sexuality and masculinity, Ruffin said she hopes the subject matter will provoke great discussion sessions.

CFAC will offer a literal taste of the Caribbean as well, with meat patties and beverages from the islands served at the reception. Visitors will have the chance to dance to lovers rock played by DJ Jah Roots at the party after the film.

“This is an amazing opportunity for students to view films that aren’t even shown in this country,” Parris said.

Ruffin said she hopes this film festival will spark interest and motivate students to come by and get to know a little more about the islands.

“The Caribbean is not just a good place to vacation. It’s more than that,” Ruffin said. “And these films focus on a different aspect of the islands and give a taste of things that are important and current.”

For the original report go to

Photo: Jimmel Daniel holding a sign for his documentary film.

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