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Caribbean Film Festivals Launch Regional Market

Program will strengthen local filmmaking communities

The Caribbean’s tourism industry is second to none, but what about its film industry?

Several fests have banded to develop the regional biz and to bring international attention to local filmmakers.

Under the agreement, spearheaded by the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, Cuba, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Curacao, Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe sprocket operas will share the best local films to screen and establish initiatives to promote local talent.

The tropical fests have also established the Caribbean Film Market and are developing the Caribbean Film Online Portal, which will give buyers updates on titles and sales information as well as regional production incentives and other info.

“We have a hot product, most people don’t know there is a Caribbean film industry,” says Emilie Upczak, creative director of the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival. “But how can we develop an industry in a sustainable way?”

Bruce Paddington, founder and director of the fest, notes they already work together but the agreement takes their partnerships to a new level.
The festivals agree to screen films from each island country, including films from Latin America (only nine miles away from Trinidad & Tobago, Paddington points out), Africa, Europe and South Asia since the Caribbean is home to many of Indian descent. One big film to screen at Trinidad and Tobago is “Half a Yellow Sun,” which is also screening at Toronto.

The partner festivals will also work closely with the region’s film commissions to promote production incentives, and program seminars, talent labs, panels and other development and educational initiatives.

“We’ve seen that there’s a lot of interest from Europe in Caribbean films,” Upczak says. “It’s a global market now. People are buying content from all over the world. … We’re very ambitious. We want to get through to international markets. We want to go up against other indie films from Poland or Italy or the U.K.”

The market and online portal will help. The market is to launch in 2014 and will move from festival to festival.

Upczak allows that there’s not enough regional content to sustain a big market, but a smaller traveling market with online tools is more cost efficient.

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