The Caribbean Film Mart (CFM) has been in the making
for several years and in September its debut took place at the 2015
trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff)
. Bruce Paddington, a filmmaker himself as well as an academic and the Founder and
Director of the Festival, along with Annebelle Alcazar, Jonathan Ali and Nneka Luke, and spearheading the CFM and the Caribbean Film Database (CFDB) , Emilie Upczak and Melanie Archer, have created an A level event which after 10 years now
encompasses three important aspects of film beyond the showcasing of the Caribbean and international docs and fiction films: filmmaking, film marketing and
film education which this year included an academic symposium through the University of the West Indies, a Youth Jury of young people from 16 to 21 and
sold out matinees for school children.
CFM envisages the Caribbean — home to the most genetically variegated people of the world — as a whole whose varied stories will go out into the larger
world (much like the Trinis themselves). Coming from islands which remind us of those planets described in Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
), the Caribbeanos gathered here in Trinidad to receive coaching and positive feedback to extend their reach into the rest of world. Our world, still
divided along colonial and post-colonial color and class lines needs this idealistic and inspiring vision.
This year 15 feature film projects from 10 countries were pitched and discussed at the inaugural Caribbean Film Mart (CFM) in parallel with an academic
symposium of university professors presenting on films, festivals and markets at the Hyatt Hotel. The unique mix of academics and professionals with
upcoming filmmakers was vibrant, alive and upbeat, and we hope it continues to grow even though the financing from ACP Cultures which made this event
possible may not continue to lend its support.
The 11 fiction feature projects and four doc projects (out of 100 submissions) selected from Guadaloupe, Cuba, Curaçao, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico,
Haiti, Barbados, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas in development and pre-production were discussed over three days with 30 international film producers,
sales agents and film funds coming from diverse countries in the Caribbean, Europe and North America.
The meetings resulted in professional relationships and partnerships that will enable the production and distribution of the participating projects going
“We are pleased that a number of the projects are from ttff alumni, some of whom have gone through our RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion, and others the
EAVE Producers’ training initiative which took place at ttff/14,” said Emilie Upczak, ttff Creative Director.
The selected projects were selected by the ttff, the Global Foundation of Democracy and Development from the Dominican Republic, the Association for the
Development of Art Cinema and Practice from Guadeloupe, the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema in
Cuba, and the Regional and International Festival of Cinema of Guadeloupe.
The projects were all most interesting visualized stories, and the filmmakers themselves, whether just beginning or with one or two features already under
their belts, were all well prepared and professionally aligned with the more seasoned professionals in their objectives. Every one of the selected projects
holds a promise of unique enchantments.
Jan Miller the international consultant and trainer specializing in film and television coproduction and coventuring who started Transatlantic Partners after she established Atlantic Partners,
part of the Atlantic Film Festival in Nova Scotia, and who has delivered one of the top pitching and content development events for 20 years created a
substantive and fun environment intensely devoted to the filmmakers.
The winner of the 15 selected CFM projects was:
a fiction feature from Haiti to be directed by Bruno Mourral and produced by Gaethan Chancy and Remi Grelletty who both produced “Moloch Tropical” and
“Murder in Pacot” and Raoul Peck the award winning director who has also produced five
features and four docs.
“Kidnapping Inc.” has Canal + Antilles as a coproducer as well as private equity. They are still seeking other coproduction partners.
This twisted, dark comedy is about two delivery men working for an underground kidnapping corporation in Haiti. Doc and Zoe are scheduled to deliver a
senator’s son worth $300,000. In the midst of their usual bickering, one kills the senator’s son accidentally. Trying to fix the mess they find themselves
in, they stumble upon the senator’s son’s lookalike, which sets them on the craziest kidnapping of their lives.
Bruno Mourral is interested in developing the industry in Haiti as well as making movies. He says, “’Kidnapping Inc. is a dark comedy and satire of Haitian
society waltzing between ‘City of God’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’. This film depicts the raw complexity and Haiti’s harsh day-to-day and pushes the viewer towards
a better understanding of social issues such as color, sexism, machismo, social class discrimination and identity.
2. “The Dragon”
is a fictional story from Trinidad and Tobago based upon the novel by the world renowned (but little known in the U.S.) Earl Lovelace and to be directed by
his daughter Asha Lovelace. Having read the novel I can say that this story of a Trinidad
community of African descendants which has inherited traits cultivated under slavery is immediately riveting. It brings another view of the radical
political actions we in the U.S. witnessed in the 70s. Moreover, a musical composition written by a Trini composer who read the novel and was so enamored
that he freely and without asking composed an entire opus makes this immediately into a transmedia project which is accessible and exploitable. The novel,
the musical opus, and what I hope to see — the movie — all tell a tale of a people we can identify with but have never seen like this.
The book is a masterpiece and brings to mind “Black Orpheus” with its setting in the poverty-stricken Calvary Hill whose inhabitants’ lives are centered in
the yearly Carnival. It also brings to mind John Steinbeck’s stories with struggling characters in the Salinas Valley.
Director Asha Lovelace’s debut short “George and the Bicycle Pump” premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. She co-wrote, produced and directed
her first feature “Joebell and America” which screened at several film festivals and won for Best International Narrative Feature Film at the Women’s
International Film Festival in Miami in 2008. She lectures on film at the University of the West Indies, founded and is festival director of Africa Film
Trinidad and Tobago, a film festival dedicated to African cinema.
Producer Lesley-Anne Macfarlane has worked in the audio-visual industry in U.K. and
Trinidad, graduated with an MA in Cultural Policy and Management from City University, London and has produced several short films and music videos.
The story centers on Aldrick whose sole responsibility in life is to his dragon masquerade that he plays for Carnival. When he finds himself falling for
Sylvia, the most desired young woman on the hill, he is unable to commit to her and she succumbs to the advances of an older man. This plummets Aldrick
into a moment of blind rebellion that ends in tragedy and forces him to confront his role as dragon and man.
from Jamaica will be directed by Storm Saulter whose well-received first feature, the
2010 crime drama “Better Mus’ Come” received U.S. distribution through Ava du Vernay’s AFFRM. It is being produced by Donald Ranvaud (“City of God”) who is well known and well loved on the international film
This fictional feature is set against the world of track and field – an area in which Jamaica has excelled for decades – and addresses urgent and poignant
broader themes. “Those images of Rastas smoking ganja on the beach or the gunman from Kingston – it isn’t who we are,” Saulter told Jeremy Kay in a Screen interview.
In his interview with Screen, Jeremy also asked what has it been like pitching to dozens of people here.
“You kind of have to get to the soul of the thing and you see what people respond to. This is about meeting with people that can help with financing and
also potentially sales agents and exploring co-production possibilities. Jamaica does not have a treaty with the U.S .but we have treaties with the U.K.
and Canada. It’s this whole puzzle you have to put together. The responses have been positive.”
The film is about Akeem, a young Rastafarian, who surprisingly shatters the 200-metre high-school track record. He must make the national team tocompete at
the World Youth Championships in Philadelphia if he wants a chance to reunite with his mother who has been living there illegally for ten years. Akeem’s
overnight popularity and the sudden return of his estranged older brother disrupt his focus. Meanwhile, a scandal is brewing that threatens to derail his
career before it’s even started.
is a Dominican Republic project to be directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas who will also produce along with Mónica De Moya. Guzmán and
Cárdenas also worked together on “Sand Dollars” (2014) which premiered at TIFF in 2014, “Jean Gentil” (2010) which premiered in Venice in 2010 and “Cochochi” (2007).
This fictional feature takes place in a magical place in the Caribbean and is about the most expensive film of all time which is about to be shot. The
Diva, a 70-year-old eccentric actress (played by Geraldine Chaplin), has arrived to star in the film. She finds herself surrounded by the absurdity that
such a film production implies, as she rigorously prepares for her role. All the while, she senses the impending end of the world. Nevertheless, the film
must go on.
5. “Doubles With Slight Pepper”
is a fiction feature coproduction of Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. to be directed by Ian Harnarine, produced by Ryan Silbert and exec produced by Spike Lee.
, a Trinidadian living in Canada has already won numerous awards for the short that this feature is based upon and has been working on this feature for
several years. The film will go into production in Trinidad in November.
In Lisa Harewood’s interview for
Shadow and Act
, Ian said, “The Caribbean Film Mart was incredibly important in opening up the world (literally!) to the project. To meet face to face with people from
Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Norwegian South Film Fund, World Cinema Support etc makes the opportunities available to me very real.”
Dhani, a young Trinidadian street vendor, struggles to support himself and his mother by selling doubles. When his estranged father, Ragbir, unexpectedly
invites him to New York, Dhani must travel to America and decide if he will save his father’s life.
Best Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival 2011
Best Live Action Short Drama at the Genie Awards 2012 (the Canadian Academy Awards)
Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film:
Watch the short HERE.
6. “The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia”
from Cuba will be the first fiction feature to be directed by Arturo Infante. His shorts
have shown at home and abroad and have won several awards and he has written several produced scripts such as “Havana Eva” and “L’edad de la peseta”, films which Cuban film fans all know well. His producers,Claudia Calviño and Alejandro Tovar are two of Cuba’s top young producers whose film “Juan of the Dead” is
Cuba’s most current best selling satire. Like that, this story highlights characters who must react to a surreal situation in an already slightly surreal
country called Cuba.
Celeste is in her sixties and sells tickets at a planetarium. The discovery of an alien race shocks the world. Humans will send a spaceship carrying
regular citizens to make contact with the alien civilization. Tired of her monotonous life, Celeste decides to apply for a spot on the ship and embark into
What Celeste and the rest of the passengers on the ship seek in another galaxy is the Cuban dream of a better life.
Arturo speaks of his interest in characters, both real and as actors. “Growing up in a family with many women made me develop a special ‘ear’ towards the
feminine. I spent my childhood in an old colonial-style house, hearing the voices of my mother, my grandmothers, aunts and neighbors. They all talking from
one side to another, sharing their stories, dreams and secrets, but also their visions about the reality and politics of my country. That’s why I think the
main character in my story must necessarily be a woman. I realize now that Celeste embodies all those voices of my childhood. Celeste’s character also
represents my parents’ generation. A generation that gave their best years to build a utopian project that was diverted into paths that were not exactly
the ones they dreamed of. A generation now marked by disenchantment and skepticism, a process of which I have been a constant witness. With my story I want
to give Celeste a chance to travel to a new planet, the opportunity to see the rebirth of those fallen dreams of her youth.”
7. “The Fisherman’s Son”
from Puerto Rico and Colombia will be directed by Edgar Deluque. Producer Annabelle Mullen from PR is a former entertainment attorney with several credits to her
name. She presented this project about a transsexual running away from the city to his childhood home at a fishermen’s island after murdering a policeman.
He must face his father whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years and who doesn’t want anything to do with his transsexual child.
The writer-director, Edgar Deluque, is an emerging talent from Colombia.
8. “Hello Nicki”
from Trinidad and Tobago will be directed by Miquel Galofré whose previous moving doc
about songwriters who were in prison in Kingston, Jamaica, “Songs of Redemption”,
showed at various festivals including Havana and Krakow. Aside from this Miquel has made six other feature docs This doc, produced by Jean Michel Gibert whose sequel to “PAN! Our Music Odyssey” called “
Re-Percussions! Our African Odyssey
” just won the award for Best Trinidad and Tobago Documentary Feature Film at ttff.
This documentary follows Shanice, a teenage girl from Trinidad, as she seeks to actualize her grand dream of making music and collaborating with Nicki Minaj, a Trinidadian born American rapper – the most popular musical personage in the world
today. Shanice is a spirited soul living with cerebral palsy and has a unique way of viewing the world. She is keenly aware of the isolation her appearance
has caused, but her personality remains bright, upbeat and hopeful.
You can meet Shanice here: https://vimeo.com/136969025 Password: Shanice
“Papa Machete” from Haiti, Barbados and U.S. to be
directed by Jonathan David Kane is based upon the short which screened at ttff. The producers, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers and Keisha Rae Witherspoon were
discussing the doc as well as the fiction feature to be made. Many of the people they spoke with, including myself, thought the fiction feature would be
more accessible, though perhaps a TV doc would also be possible with the footage they have made the 10 minute short with.
The story is fascinating as the machete was used as a weapon 200 years ago when Haitian slaves defeated Napoleon’s armies with the very tool they used to
work the land. Papa Machete explores the esoteric martial art that emerged from this victory through the life and recent death of Alfred Avril, a poor
farmer who was one of the art’s few remaining masters. With his passing, Avril’s two sons are confronted with loss, legacy and American dreams.
10. “Wind Rush”
is conceived as a doc coproduction between Trinidad and Tobago and U.S. director-writer-producer Vashti Harrison lives in Atlanta, Geogia. Her parents are Trinis and she has a great love
for Trinidad and its music. This is an experimental doc about Calypso music which serves a significant role in the Caribbean emigrant experience in London,
which began in earnest in the 1950s. Calypso was the music of the minority, the voice of the other, and it helped to define the West Indian identity in
England. Using the music of calypsonians Lord Beginner and Lord Kitchener as a road map to this journey of discovery and displacement, the film will focus
on their homes both in Trinidad and London.
The criticism she received was about obtaining music clearances in U.K. when she herself is not a U.K. resident or citizen. Perhaps she needs to find a
U.K. producer who can also access U.K. Funds. Her experimental films and docs have shown around the world at Rotterdam, Edinburgh, N.Y. and Havana Film
Festivals. All of her work focuses into her Caribbean heritage and is quite evocative, artistic and well executed.
from Curaçao will be directed and produced by German Gruber whose first film, urban
drama, “Sensei Redenshon” was completed in 2013 and will be released in the
Netherlands this fall. This fiction feature about the natural side of Curaçao is a road movie about a young boy who runs away from home after the loss of
his mother. Searching for the message that he saw her whisper into a conch shell the night before her death, he seeks clues from the characters he meets
along his desolate journey. Between nightmares of drowning and daydreams of becoming a musician, he eventually confronts his fear of the sea to find the
12. “Green Days by the River”
is a fiction feature set against the backdrop of rural Trinidad in 1952. A fifteen-year-old boy who has just moved to a village naively seeks the affection
of two girls, an attractive rich Indian girl, and a more personable and accessible one. The ensuing triangle forces him to focus on becoming a man as he
must make life enduring decisions.
Director Michael Mooleedhar has made several award winning shorts.Producer Christian
James graduated in 2014 with an MFA in Cretive Producing from Columbia College Chicago, has interned with K5 International during 2014 Cannes and
participated in the 2015 Rotterdam Film Festival Lab.
: Women Pillars in Revolt”
, a doc project from Guadeloupe will be directed by Bouchera Azzouz whose first documentary, “Nos Meres nos daronnes” (“Our Mothers”) aired this year on
France 2 (France Televisions) and was one of its biggest audience hits. This is her second work on popular feminism. Producer Nina Vilus‘ short “Vivre” has won awards and their “Villa Karayib”, a 3 minute 30 second series with 140
episodes aired on Canal + Antilles. Laurence Lascary is coproducing.
This film is an exploratory journey into the heart of the everyday life of five Guadeloupean women who are considered “potomitans”, women who
assume professional and familial responsibilities without the help of a man. Everything rests on the courage of these women, who are trying to emancipate
themselves by claiming a new way of being a woman.
It is an Art & Vision Productions, De l’autre cote du periph (DACP) and Canal + Antilles coproduction which Canal + will broadcast in the French
Caribbean. 37% of the financing is secured through the Guadeloupe regional council, Agence national pour la cohesion social et l’egalite des chances
(ASCE), Ministry of French overseas territories. APCAG network of theaters in Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana along with Aubervilliers Theater in
France will premiere the film.
14. “The Seawall”
is a fiction project to be coproduced by Guyana and U.S.
Director Mason Richards says, “My intention for ‘The Seawall’ is to create a dramatic
narrative set in Guyana, South America with simple characters navigating through complex issues within the Caribbean cultural context. It is also my
intention to make a film that seeks to reconcile our Caribbean and non-Caribbean identities through the journey of my protagonist who returnes “home” to
Guyana and is confronted with issues of his past that he has suppressed. The story needs to be told because many of us from the Caribbean diaspora struggle
with “trans-national” identities, meaning we are from the Caribbean, however we’ve immigrated to other countries like the U.S. where we’ve adapted to a new
dominant culture and way of life. With tht, there is a feeling of “dis-connect” as though we have left something behind, back “home” in the Caribbean,
whether it’s family members, our cultural identity, or simply our childhood memories. It is also my intention to make an entertaining, quality film that
highlights the beauty of the Caribbean through the stories and hearts of the characters.
The fiscal partner of this project is FROG (Friends and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Guyana), Verisimiltude in New York City. The executive producer
C.R. Wooten has exec produced several film projects for TV and HBO and exec produced the short film, “The Seawall”.
The writer-director, Mason Richards, is an alumnus of Film Independent’s Project Involve, a recipient of Sony Pictures Diversity Fellowship 2012, winner of
The Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award 2011 and Guyana’s 46th Independence Golden Arrowhead Award.
Producer Sohini Sengupta is an award-winning of creative director of theatrical
campaigns, including “Birdman”, “12 Years a Slave”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Black Swan” and “Slumdog Millionaire”. She is a production team member
of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and was named one of Glamour Magazine’s 35 under 35 Women Who Run Hollywood.
Malachi, a struggling young writer in Brooklyn, learns of his girlfriend’s pregnancy and returns to his birth country, Guyana, to sell off his inheritance.
In Guyana, Malachi ends up confronting his estranged father who abandoned him as a child. Malachi gets closure, and makes decisions about the kind of
father he would be to his unborn child.
by Maria Govan who is a self-taught filmmaker from the island of New Providence in The
Bahamas. When she was 18 she moved to L.A. and worked for four years on Hollywood sets. In 1999 she returned home, bought a digital camera and began making
small guerilla-style local documentaries. In 2004 she moved to New York and began writing her first narrative script “Rain” which premiered in 2008 at the
Toronto International Film Festival, won several awards and aired on Showtime to a strong audience response. Her second film “Play the Devil” was shot
entirely in Trinidad in the spring of 2015 and she hopes it will premiere in the winter of 2016.
Producer Abigail Hadeed has worked with Caribbean crews on big budget commercials. She
worked on the short “4am” in 2011 which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festval. In 2012 she produced an award winning feature doc “La Giata”
and produced “Play the Devil” with Maria.
They are looking for coproducers and can offer a 35% rebate on Trinidadian spend with a 50% rebate on roles in key positions for films shot in Trinidad.
Exterior and ocean environments can be shot in the Bahamas.
Set in the Bahamas — Mary, a loner with a passion for spear fishing and the sea, is forced to give up her room to her overbearing cousin’s girlfriend, an
“illegal” colorful Cuban named Gabriel. When a love triangle develops and George realizes he’s been betrayed, the women are forced into the dark terrain of
Links to “Rain” (director’s previous work): Trailer
Link to Maria Govan’s Show Reel: https://vimeo.com/35611171
Other films in the program but exceeding the official number of 15 include
from The Bahamas, a fiction feature based upon the short film of Kareem Mortimer.
Producer Trevite Willis has produced several films including the LGBT feather “Children
of God” with Kareem directing. Producer Alexander Younis now has a doc, “Brigidy Bram ” in post-production.
“Cargo”, based upon Kareem’s short “Passage”, is about a Bahamian fisherman whose life is slowly unraveling. After wasting his remaining money at a
gambling house, he is approached by a security guard who suggests that Kevin supplement his income by using his vessel as a means to transport people
illegally into the United States. Kevin leads scores of migrants on a treacherous, unsettling and perilous final journey.
reminded me of “Desperately Seeking Susan” in the story of an young uptight British woman who has her run-of-the-mill life disrupted when the Caribbean
grandmother she barely knew leaves a request for her to scatter her ashes in Trinidad where a free-spirited cousin takes her on a wild road trip that
changes her life forever.
The director-producer-cowriter, Karen Martinez, is a Trinidadian filmmaker based in London, U.K. She has
worked extensively in the film world in U.K. and the Caribbean. In 2013 she wrote, produced and directed her frist narrative fiction “After Mas”. Her most
recent film, “Dreams in Transit” is an essay-style documentary of a contemporary migrant reflcting on identity and the meaning of “home”.
18. “Unfinished Sentences”
by writer-director-producer Mariel Brown, an award winning documentary director and founder of the creative and production
company Savant. Her documentary films have been screened on television, at festivals and other special events around the world, most recently at the Pan
African Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand.
This is a story of a writer father and a filmmaker daughter who walks the line between adoration and disappointment, success and failure, race, family and
art. When he dies, in her great grief she discovers his poetry and prose transcend death, allowing her to hear his voice again and to find a way back to
her own self. For more information go to http://www.unfinishedsentencesfilm.com.
19. “Queen of Soca”
by Kevin Adams
Queen of Soca’ was inspired by my home base of Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago where the frustration of living a life of restricted opportunity is
a narrative I observe often.“
Queen of Soca” is the story of Olivia, who lives in an impoverished community and is striving to make a better life for herself. Her life is full of
struggles, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The short version of “Queen of Soca”, entitled “No Soca No Life” premiered at Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in 2012 and has been well
received by movie goers and movie industry practitioners. “No Soca No Life” is currently available on Vimeo, Pay per view.
“We are now focused on the original goal of creating a blockbuster inspirational story for the world to enjoy, and using the Trinidad and Tobago culture as
the vehicle for our message. On behalf of myself and my team, thank you for your interest in this project and we look forward to completing this journey
with you !”
The CFM was held from 24-27 September at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The ttff/15 took place from 15-29 September.