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Action!: Trinidad & Tobago Film Fest Gets Ready to Roll with 120 Films

Marley, Directed by Kevin McDonald

Port-of-Spain: The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) 2012 is gearing up to offer up a surfeit of films catering to the tastes of film buffs, industry hopefuls and professionals as well as casual attendees who just who just want to catch a good film. TTFF 2012 opens with Kevin McDonald’s critically acclaimed documentary, Marley on September 19, and runs through to October 2, 2012. Organizers have announced the largest line-up of films to date..

The Directors of Ring Di Alarm a "suitcase film" comprising seven storiesFilms in the 2012 line up of 120 films including shorts, features, and documentaries hail from 30 countries across the wider Caribbean, the Caribbean diaspora, India and Africa. The films include Jose Marti: The Canary’s Eye (Cuba), Choco (Colombia), Captains of the Sand (Brazil), Doubles with Slight Pepper (Trinidad/Canada), Stones in the Sun (USA/Haiti), Valley of the Saints (Kashmir) and Ring Di Alarm (Jamaica). Films will be screened at Movie Towne, the Little Carib Theatre, the University of the West Indies, Studio Film Club and Medulla Art Gallery

TTFF 2012 will also proffer several workshops geared at a range of topics including making a film on a cell phone, tips for guerrilla film making, and lessons in acting and reviewing for film. Festival goers will also have opportunities to attend question and answer panels with over 50 actors and directors including Mr. McDonald (Marley, The Last King of Scotland).

The festival began in 2006 and has been growing steadily since. Festival founder Bruce Paddington explains that TTFF’s growth is in part due to the organizers ensuring a high quality of screened films. He explained that TTFF has attended and partnered with other festivals in the Caribbean and North America. Additionally, films in competition in the festival vie for up to US$30,000 in prizes while through the RBC Film Focus Immersion programme, documentary producers can win TT$20,000 for a successful pitch. The 2012 Filmmakers’ Immersion will be facilitated by Jamaican-American Alrick Brown (Kinyarwanda) and Argentinian Fernanda Rossi (The Garden).

According to Mr. Paddington, the  prizes provided by the TTFF is a part of how the festival fulfills its developmental role. It also does this by helping to provide access to funding. In that vein, the 2012 series of workshops will include focus on applying for film funding from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and WorldView/Tribeca Institute. “We believe we are playing a central role in helping to develop a Caribbean film industry by creating and sustaining a major pan-Caribbean film festival that brings together the best films and filmmakers from the region,” Mr. Paddington said.

Doubles With Slight PepperAs the largest film festival in the English speaking Caribbean, The TTFF can be used as a rough gauge to examine the health of the industry’s development in the region. Mr. Paddington explained that while there is evidence of growth in the regional industry,, there remains much scope for improvement. He noted that several of the films that have been screened at TTFF over its six year history indicate gradual improvement. These films include Ghett'a Life and Better Mus Come (Jamaica), Children of God and Rain (the Bahamas), La Hija Natural (Dominican Republic), Jab! Blue Devils of Paramin  and '70 Making of a Revolution (Trinidad and Tobago). He also points out that Cuba usually produces excellent films. 

“The technical quality is improving with the use of HD digital cameras. But we need more narrative features from the English speaking Caribbean, especially from Trinidad and Tobago,” Mr. Paddington said.  “We still have far to go to create a sustainable film industry and marketing and distribution and the language barriers still present challenges. But overall there are positive signs.”