Toronto Film Showcase puts spotlight on Caribbean music

From reggae to calypso, Caribbean music has been beloved around the globe. West Indian people have taken their music with them wherever they’ve settled and its appeal has done more than just show folks how to party—it’s inspired movements for social change. Caribbean music and its role in activism is the focus of next month’s Toronto Film Showcase, led by Toronto-based T&T film-maker Frances-Anne Solomon, as Gilliam Moore reports in this article for T&T’s Guardian. The showcase is an initiative of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution (CTWD), a company that works with film-makers and producers in the English-speaking Caribbean, to help expose their work and create avenues for it to be profitable. Now in its seventh year, the showcase runs concurrently with the Toronto Film Festival, which attracts industry professionals from around the world. The forum’s Incubator programme, an intensive three-day training session, will also give film-makers the opportunity to meet and learn from such professionals. The incubator, in its third year, connects Caribbean filmmakers with industry specialists, potential partners, funders and business strategists. Solomon says producers will have an opportunity to hone their business plans,  and film and television pitches, through one-on-one support and group interventions, led by international consultants.

During the run of the Toronto Film Showcase, from September 5-15, the CTWD will host a number of events that will allow film-makers to network informally and have private one-on-one meetings with international buyers and funders attending the Toronto International Film Festival. This year’s showcase will examine “the universal impact of Caribbean music and its links to activism,” and will screen several new movies from the region and the Caribbean diaspora. These include Marley, produced by Tuff Gong and the Marley family; The Story of Lover’s Rock, by veteran Barbadian-British filmmaker Memelik Shabazz; and, Sing Your Song, a biographical documentary on the life of musician and activist Harry Belafonte. The films will illuminate the theme, as in each case, music was used as a springboard for social change. Bob Marley’s music has been the inspiration behind consciousness, spirituality and justice movements. Lover’s Rock evolved as a distinct Black-British musical style in the 70s and 80s, against a backdrop of riots and social protest. And Harry Belafonte used his star status to agitate for civil rights in the US and internationally. Solomon says, “Over the past two years, we have hosted 60 filmmakers, many of whom will return to update delegates on the success of the partnerships they have forged and projects they have developed.”

Solomon led a workshop in Trinidad last year on international film distribution, in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Film Co and Anime Caribe. The Toronto Film Showcase will kick off with a gala opening and film screening, hosted by the Consulate General for Trinidad and Tobago in Toronto. The reception, at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, will feature vintage kaiso music by Kobo Town, a band founded by Trinidadian Drew Gonzalves. The showcase includes a Caribbean-style fete; a series of film screenings; the Incubator Series, and an award ceremony, reception and screening on the final night. Films from around the region and its diaspora, including French Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Britain, and the US will be shown. The showcase will also target younger film-makers with its 48-hour Youth Film Challenge, in which participants will have the chance to attend a workshop led by award-winning filmmaker Rodney Smith, then complete a film within 48 hours. Info on the Toronto Film Showcase and Incubator on Facebook and at http://caribbeantales-events.com

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/entertainment/2012-08-18/toronto-film-showcase-puts-spotlight-caribbean-music

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