If you flip through the channels on your television, you’re sure to find a bewildering buffet of American produced movies, documentaries, and shows. But the Belize International Film Festival, is trying to bring Belizean films to the forefront. The 10th annual festival will take place in July and January marked the opening date for submissions. The organizer of the festival, Suzette Zayden says despite the financial constraints, this festival creates a platform for aspiring Belizean movie producers and directors to promote themselves.
The festival will take place on July 17th, 18th and 19th on Placencia. Screening will also take place from July 23rd to the 26th across the country. There will also be documentary and film workshops for those who are interested. You must submit your work by March 31st.
ICA Calls for Entries for Belize International Film Fest
The dates are set for the 2015 Belize International Film Festival. The tenth edition of the popular festival will take place from July seventeenth through the nineteenth in Placencia. It features unique, culturally-inspired and independent films with storylines that celebrate life from various perspectives. Today, the Film and Media Arts Unit of the Institute of Creative Arts issued a call for entries for submissions by local and international film makers for six different categories. Founder and Director, Suzette Zayden, says that this year, a new category has been added that is exclusive to the Caribbean and Central America for mini-series, telenovelas and soap operas.
Suzette Zayden, Director, Film and Media Arts Unit, ICA
“The call for submissions have actually been opened from January first and it will be closed March thirty-first. We’ve been working out some of the kinks, but we pretty much want to remind Belizean film makers out there that the call is opened right now and if you have music videos, this is a category that is only opened to Belizeans. The music video has to be a Belizean artist and it has to be filmed in Belize. The festival has six categories: there is the feature length narrative, the feature length documentary, the short documentary, the short fiction and the music video that I just mentioned. This year, we are introducing a new category called the TV dramatic series and we are actually opening it to the pilot of these series. As you noted, it seems to be growing in Belize….it started with No Matta Wat; there’s been other series that came along. Last year, the La Isla Bonita also premiered being the first telenovela. So we are looking at the trend and we want to encourage it. So this year, although we didn’t have a category for TV, we opened up a new category for TV this year. Because there is only like two that we know of from Belize, we opened it up to the Caribbean and Central America as well so that there is a chance for us to see what is happening out there, the quality level and the stories that are being told.”
Suzette Zayden on Training Up-and-coming Filmmakers
While the festival will be limited to three days, the film and media arts unit has been working around the clock with young film makers and animators as well as videographers and audio-visual novices to raise the standards of Belizean films. For a second year in a row, the festival will include a week-long training on techniques of the film industry. But there are still some challenges, says Director Zayden.
Suzette Zayden, Director, Film & Media Arts Unit, ICA
“There are other elements that we do. We have training workshops that we try and do throughout the year. We focus a few around the festival. Last year we did a five-day film school workshop a week or so before the festival; we are going to repeat it again this year. It was very well-received. It’s pretty much an introductory course for people who are interested, don’t know so much about it and want to see a little bit and participate in making a film. The end result of that is an actual student film and it’s on Facebook right now. We are also going to do a documentary course as well this year. It will happen after the festival, but it is going to be looking more at using technology as a tool for indigenous groups or pretty much any interest groups that would like to tell their stories. Challenge is getting people into those cinemas. It is not the biggest…Belize is still not a great audience culture. Our strategies include working with community spaces and playing films in the park. So last year we did Orange Walk (Queen Elizabeth Park), we did San Pedro, we did the Visitor’s Center in San Ignacio, we did Seine Bight Community Center; we did Memorial Park in Belize City. We are looking to expand and try and add Punta Gorda to the list, Corozal wants to be on the list. Benque says remember we are still here. So we are taking advantage of NICH’s various Houses of Culture to assist us to get this out and making it a national festival. So we are going to look at that the following weekend during the encore presentations.”
Several awards are up for grabs this year including best films in all six categories as well as best animation, most notable Belizean film and a youth audience award. The deadline for submissions is March thirty-first.
Student Film produced during the 2014 Five Day Film School held July 2014. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to register for this introductory but hand's on course to filmmaking in July 2015.