Canada delights in all of its diversity this year as we mark the sesquicentennial, the 2017 edition of the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) will celebrate its 12th annual festival with the theme of ‘Legacy’ – the legacy of the people and beauty of the Caribbean.
The festival opened with a bang, featuring documentary Journey of a Soca King, directed by Bart Phillips, about the legendary and ongoing career of soca star Machel Montano, which played to a sold out Gala in Toronto, and sold out Encore Screening in Scarborough. Throughout the festival, CaribbeanTales will showcase a total of six features and five short documentary films from around the world.
These docs cover a wide range of topics including popular music, climate change, environmentalism, slavery and racial identity. The documentary trailer and schedule are below.
Before the Trees Was Strange (Canadian Premiere)
(Derek Burrows, USA/Bahamas, 2016); 85 mins
Filmmaker Derek Burrows’ intimate portrait of his own family and their relationship with their racial identity. The documentary contains footage shot over 30 years, and uses interviews, storytelling as well as poetry performances to tell this complex story. The story revolves around the filmmaker and his siblings’ relationship with their mother, who insisted on seeing herself and her children as white, though it is apparent that they are not. The filmmaker chronicles his journey when he left the Bahamas in 1974, only to arrive in the States where he was seen and accepted as Black. He returns to the Bahamas, and after his mother dies, he feels free to explore the question of his own heritage in the Bahamas National Archives, through interviews of relatives and finally through DNA testing to come to terms with who he really is.
Sorf Hair (Canadian Premiere)
(Shari Petti, Trinidad & Tobago, 2017); 24 mins
A short documentary examining how “natural hair” is perceived and treated in Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, across the Caribbean.
Pimento and Hot Pepper – The Mento Story (Canadian Premiere)
(Rick Elgood, Jamaica, 2016); 59 mins
Originally, in Jamaican music, there was Mento. It was, not only the name of a musical style and a type of band, but also a song form, a rhythm, and a dance. And yet for a century, Mento music and its performers have hidden in plain sight. This documentary explores the origins of Mento and where it is today. Mento’s socially aware and often bawdy lyrics spoke to the lives of the people of the countryside and downtown, which didn’t square with the sensibilities of uptown Kingston. A “polished” version of Mento was marketed as Jamaican “calypso”, but it could not compete with emerging musical forms like Ska. While Mento became a symbol of cultural identity in the years after Jamaican independence in 1962, it was overshadowed by Reggae’s international superstars.
Quiet Revolution (Canadian Premiere)
(Rhonda Chan Soo & Edward Inglefield, T&T 2016); 15 mins
Erle “the Crazy Runner” is an adventure racer and barefoot ultra marathoner, and now a major advocate for Permaculture in T&T. Armed only with an old photocopy of a “permanent agriculture/ culture” manual, Erle set out to regenerate the land. His permaculture farm, Wa Samaki Ecosystems, is a hub for ecological farming and learning.
Teach A Man (Canadian Premiere)
(Carver Bacchus, T&T, 2016); 14 mins
This short documentary film follows a south Trinidad spear fisherman who has seen his livelihood threatened by climate change and frequent oil spills in the Gulf of Paria.
Where have our trees gone??? 300 years of tree cutting in Haiti (Canadian Premiere)
(Mario L. Delatour, Haiti, 2017); 52 mins
This documentary is a powerful tool for raising awareness of the problems of deforestation in Haiti, providing historical and social keys to understanding the impacts of environmental degradation. The images relate to the complexity of the impact of the timber trade during the colonial period, the American occupation and the Duvalier dictatorship.
Shashamane (Canadian Premiere)
(Giulia Amati, Barbados /Italy/Ethiopia/Jamaica/ Uk, 2016); 80 mins
The journey towards Shashamane in Ethiopia where a community of people of African heritage have returned to live on their forefathers’ land. An exodus of coming-of-home, that for some has become a haven, but for others a cage of no escape. In 1948, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie donated 500 acres of his own private lands “for the black people of the world” to encourage displaced Africans to repatriate. Since the ‘60s, many have left Jamaica for Ethiopia to establish the oldest Rastafari settlement in the world – Shashamane.
Small Change (Canadian Premiere)
(Dylan Quesnel, Trinidad & Tobago/Canada, 2016); 21 mins
Small Change is a short Caribbean based documentary shot entirely in Trinidad & Tobago which is based around climate change in a local context, with special focus on the oil based economy which is crashing, and the social, economic and environmental benefits which can come from ‘going green’. It was produced in 2016 by members of IAMovement, a youth-led non-profit organization which hosted the 2014 and 2015 People’s Climate Marches in Port of Spain, during key UN Summits in NYC and Paris.
Off The Short Block Info & Tickets
Traces of Sugar (World Premiere)
(Ida Does, Amsterdam, 2017); 57 mins
The Dutch Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. This documentary focuses on an underexposed side of the Dutch Golden Age: the slaveholders and merchants who were based in Amsterdam and were directly involved in the slave trade. We visit specific spots around the famous canals of Amsterdam and learn more about this shared past of Amsterdam and her former colonies.
Paddlin Spirit (Canadian Premiere)
(Amanda Sans Pantling, Jamaica, 2016); 30 mins
Paddlin’ Spirit is a short documentary film about the Jamaican artist Laura Facey, whose work explores the indescribable cruelty of slavery but also the resilient nature of the human being. It stands out for her denouncement of abuse and her own process of healing from her traumatic experiences; although her Emancipation piece was very controversial among the people of Jamaica due to its explicitness.
About the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival:
The CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF), now in its twelfth year, runs September 6 to 21, 2017 at The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street, Toronto. The theme for the 2017 Festival, Caribbean Legacy, validates the historical realities that nurture the diversity, imagination and originality of this year’s films.
CTFF celebrates the talents of established and emerging filmmakers of Caribbean heritage who practice their art across the Caribbean Diaspora worldwide – including Canada and the Caribbean, Europe, the Americas, Africa, China, India and the Middle East. CTFF presents a multi-ethnic mix of exciting and dynamic films that showcase diverse shared stories and cultures.
CTFF is produced by CaribbeanTales Inc, a registered Canadian Charity that aims to connect people through film. The company’s mandate is to foster and encourage intercultural understanding and racial equality, through the creation, marketing and distribution of film programs, events and projects that reflect the diversity and creativity of Caribbean heritage culture.
Tickets and more information for CTFF2017 are at www.caribbeantalesfestival.com .
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