This article by Ian Gormely appeared in Toronto’s Metro News.
Sun, sand and the sea are the things most associated with the Caribbean. But if Frances-Anne Solomon has her way, they’ll soon take a back seat to “the lives of Caribbean people.”
Solomon is founder of the CaribbeanTales Film Festival. Now in its eighth year, the fest is a showcase for a growing industry that presents “authentic” tales of Caribbean culture around the globe.
“These are stories of infinite complexity and diversity,” she says. “There is no sugar coating or sensationalizing.”
For years Caribbean economies leaned heavily on agriculture and tourism — hence the sun, sand and sea stereotype. But governments in the region are increasingly turning to creative industries like film to boost their economies.
“Traditionally, we didn’t have the means to make or tell our own stories,” she says.
Filmmaking isn’t cheap. But a combination of government incentives and the rise of affordable digital technology changed that.
“Now you can walk into a shop and buy equipment to create content that can be broadcast around the world.”
The region produces about 30 features a year along with hundreds of shorts. Solomon estimates that in the last five years about 20 festivals like CaribbeanTales have launched around the globe.
Cultural ties with countries like France and Spain offer certain islands in-roads into potentially lucrative markets. But Solomon wants Caribbean filmmakers making films for the Caribbean people, not international markets.
“People need to tell stories in order to affirm who they are. Once you grow that strength it becomes accessible globally.”
She points to the U.K. as a country that’s exported their culture around the world via their film industry. But, she says, English stories are still about English people.
“We have the ability to expand but I feel we need to do it on our own terms.”
CaribbeanTales Film Festival runs Sept. 4 to 14. Check out caribbeantales-events.com for the full schedule.
The Caribbean is a big place, made up of 30 territories. CaribbeanTales’ programming reflects this geographic diversity.