The CaribbeanTales Film Festival is “Canada’s one and only forum showcasing the best of Caribbean cinema from around the world.” (cited www.caribbeantales-events.com) With an extensive background in the film industry founder Frances-Anne Solomon curated an interesting and relevant selection for the festival hosted at Harbourfront Centre, presently entering its fifth year.
With ubiquitous technology that allows for multi-platform and transmedia productions the storyteller can now connect to his or her audience through a plethora of portals. It pays for film festivals to take notice of this important shift. Including web series as part of the programming is paramount so Mixed Bag Mag was excited to see that the vision was there with CaribbeanTales.
Joyce & Herman: In Stereo, produced by Neunie Flicks, is part of an animated web series, In Stereo, that is edgy with a sweet side. Despite being cartoons the characters have dimension, feel real and are familiar. Joyce is the hhh-auntie-next-door and it’s all about the tea time talk!
With dry Brit wit and Island insight In Stereo is intelligent in the way that it exposes the deeper issues of class and race that lie just underneath the polite facades.
Another web series on the list was Santana – “innovative puppet film shorts that reflect the diversity of the Caribbean Diaspora.” (cited www.lexo.tv) Santana seems like Trinidad’s answer to South Park, politically irreverent with characters that resolve their tensions with shot guns and rude back talk. The story lines are reduced to fuss n’ fight scenarios. Diversity yes – the puppets represent all shades of the Caribbean mix – but this series does little to push for change and perhaps that is not the point.
But as superficial as Santana is other screenings like Chinee Girl and Silent Music dig deep through the layers of stereotypes and silence. Natalie Wei and Melissa Gomez are two amazing young female filmmakers that not only technically understand their craft, they understand the transformational power of narrative.
As the house lights came up on Saturday night after the screening of Silent Music, Frances-Anne Solomon’s reaction of being overcome with emotion and without words was an expression of the importance of CaribbeanTales. When she located her voice again she poignantly pointed out that it is films like Melissa Gomez’ that eloquently speak to the “healing power of storytelling.”
Mixed Bag Mag couldn’t agree more!
From left to right: Ryan Singh of “Mr. Crab”, Natalie Wei of “Chinee Girl”, Frances-Anne Solomon of CaribbeanTales, Melissa Gomez of “Silent Music”
Natalie Wei of “Chinee Girl” and Melissa Gomez of “Silent Music”
Photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.