CaribbeanTales is a festival of immense scope: it lasts over a month and showcases the best of what the entire Caribbean has to offer for the film industry, including the innovative CaribbeanTales-TV.

With all the hype surrounding TIFF it might be hard to remember that there are other opportunities to see amazing film in Toronto. At FFIT, we are here to remind you! CaribbeanTales is a huge festival that began in August and will continue until this Saturday, September 14. It takes place mostly at the CNE, but also at various locations around the city. Check out the schedule: some of the best films have yet to be screened.

CaribbeanTales began in 2000 as a multimedia company with the goal of taking Caribbean films to the world. The idea was to promote and showcase these films in Canada, and then internationally to empower Caribbean youth at home and overseas. The festival is meant to act as a unifying agent in a culture characterized by diaspora. CaribbeanTales takes the stance that it is very empowering to be a part of such a widespread culture, making unique art all over the world that expresses the similar visions of the dynamic culture of the region.

The initiative was met with support from the community because Caribbean influences such as Reggae were already widespread and beloved forms of creative expression. During the first years of the festival the film industry in the Caribbean was emerging out of the understanding of how powerful these forms of cultural expression were globally. Various island and mainland governments began to support film as a way to share their country’s unique cultural message with the world. Logically this support has lead to an increase in film schools and film festivals. Pair this development with the digital revolution, and the Caribbean had all the ingredients for a major surge in film production.

The CaribbeanTales multimedia company had their first full-length film festival in 2005, and since then it has been remarkably successful. Every year the festival features films from all of the Islands of Caribbean: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican, as well as from community members within Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.

The festival showcases at the same time as TIFF, because TIFF brings a lot of Caribbean filmmakers to the city that are eager to showcase their projects at both festivals. The timeline has been beneficial for CaribbeanTales, as it ensures an overwhelming abundance of filmmakers from the Islands participate in the event.

To expand the festival further, CaribbeanTales partnered with Islands of the Caribbean, an organization comprised of tourism boards from Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua, St. Kits, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent.

Finally, and perhaps the most exciting addition to the CaribbeanTales film festival this year is the launch of CaribbeanTales-TV. This is a website that streams all of the films for the festival online, and will continue to be live for the rest of the year. Whether you’re curious for a taste of Caribbean film before you commit to purchasing a ticket, or you saw a film that you loved and just can’t get enough, this new website is an amazing resource. 

There are CaribbeanTales screenings and events down at Queen’s Quay CNE Studio Theatre and the Harbourfront Centre from Wednesday September 11 to Saturday September 14. Highlights are El Medico, a Cuban drama about a trained doctor struggling with his desire to be a musician. El Medico is by director Daniel Fridell and screens on Friday night, as well as the Queer Caribbean Showcase on Saturday afternoon. This showcase features shorts from Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago,  as well as the feature Elliot Loves by director Gary Terracino of the Dominican Republic.

Treat yourself to this powerful cultural phenomenon and get your tickets for these events here.

Lindsay Presswell

Lindsay Presswell

When she’s not counting down the days to receiving her Bachelor’s degree in English and History at York University, Lindsay Presswell studies science fiction, contemporary Canadian literature,...