Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) has quickly become an essential part of the Caribbean film industry. Established by founder + filmmaker, Frances-Anne Solomon, CTFF takes pride in showcasing films from the Caribbean and the Diaspora. The collection of films that have been highlighted range from emotional dramas to transformative documentaries, all of which reflect the diverse talent from the region.
Running concurrently with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – from September 9-19 – at the Royal Cinema in Toronta, Canada, CTFF featured numerous films from a variety of genres. There were countless excellent films at the CTFF screenings, but here are 6 films with a social + cultural message, that we couldn’t ignore.
1. Dolares de Arena (Sand Dollars)
Island: Dominican Republic
Director(s): Laura Amelia Guzmán + Israel Cárdenas
Noeli is an opportunistic, young girl in a complex relationship with an older, wealthy woman – Anne. The older woman entices her younger counterpart with the lure of money and the promise of a visa. Noeli is aware of Anne’s power and status, but uses it for her advantage and to care for her young, steady boyfriend – Yeremi. Though she is using Anne, Noeli finds strange comfort in the older woman, which makes it an interesting drama.
2. Mala Mala
Island: Puerto Rico
Director(s): Antonio Santini + Dan Sickles
The feature length docu-film, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, explores the lives of those who redefine typical gender identities in Puerto Rico. Following nine individuals through their daily lives and routines, Mala Mala effortlessly reflects the solidarity in their shared journeys. The doc celebrates and unconventionally captures an oft taboo subject within the Caribbean + Latin American communities.
3. Sally’s Way
Island: Trinidad & Tobago
Director(s): Joanne Johnson
When her grandmother falls ill, Sally is thrust into a world of instability and finds herself living with another family until things stabilize. Sally must overcome the multitude of obstacles that emerge as a result of her caregiver’s ailment. Based on the children’s book, the film experiments with a variety of themes that affect all ages and communities like HIV/Aids, resilience, and triumph in the face of adversity.
4. The Blind Stigma
Director(s): Stacy-Ann Buchanan
The Blind Stigma erases the shame associated with mental health within the Black Canadian community by telling the stories of five individuals who navigate their way through the joys and trials of mental health. The stories of these individuals is bolstered with additional commentary from mental health professionals, community leaders, and caregivers. The film challenges the misconceptions associated with mental health while giving a voice to those in the minority community.
5. The Lara Brothers
Island: Trinidad & Tobago/Diaspora
Director(s): Janine Fung
Tito and Willy Lara are brothers and founding members of The Lara Brothers – the fathers of Parang in Trinidad. Parang is traditional folk music originally brought to Trinidad by Venezuelan migrants. The film follows the brothers as they travel all over Trinidad performing their music, as they have done for over 70 years. It seeks to emphasize the importance of parang music and culture on the island and preserve its legacy.
Director(s): Rachèle Magloire + Chantal Regnault
The stories of seven deported Haitian men are retold in this powerful documentary. The film talks a look at the conditions of Haitian deportees as they are forced into the reintegrate into a society they once left or have never really known. It also evaluates United States deportation laws, and is an important social and cultural visual that accurately portrays the deportation and deportees.
Featured Image Courtesy of CTFF/Facebook