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Belize Film Festival moving to Cayo

NICH is eyeing Cayo for the Belize Film Festival. Cahal Pech might be the new location from now on...

5 exciting days of film, filmmakers and networking in a Caribbean setting

The 7th Edition of this Culture centric Caribbean/Central America based fusion film festival brings top world films and filmmakers together for 5 days in Belize, the Maya Heartland as we get ready to welcome the dawn of a new cycle in the Maya Calendar. This year's festivities will definitely include a tribute to indigenous films and especially those that revolve around the theme of the Mayas.

Belize Film Festival - San Pedro - HyperdriveTV - Tony Roberts - Belize Filmworks

Dragon Wasps trailer

by Nick Bicanic
This is the trailer for Dragon Wasps. Starring Corin Nemec, Dominika Juillet, Ben Easterday

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Film Festival to be launched with record number of entries

Shari Williams

Fans of the cinema will be happy to know that the Belize International Film Festival is on the horizon. The seventh installation of the country's only festival that praises the art of movie making, will take place from the thirteenth to the seventeenth of July. This year, a record number of films have been submitted for consideration by the judges in different award winning categories. News Five spoke to Shari Williams, the Communications Officer for NICH who says that in addition to a few notable international names, opening night will feature a full feature length film made in Belize.

Shari Williams, Communications Officer, NICH

"This year is the seventh Annual Belize International Film Festival and the Film Commission has been working very hard in getting this year's up and coming. For the first time this year we have had a record number of applications to be included in the Film Festival-some one hundred and twenty films were submitted from all over the world. Tomorrow at ten-thirty a.m., we are going to release the sixty-seven featured films which have been selected to be a part of the Film Festival this year."

Jose Sanchez

"Now the Film Festival is part of our local culture. Will we have any local productions at the Film Festival?"

Shari Williams

"The opening night will feature a Belizean film. It's a movie length featured film. It is called 2012 Curse of the Ixcabai. It was produced by Make Belizean Film. The producer is a Canadian, Mathew Clink, but it is an all Belizean cast. It is starred by Belizean, Nihanda Higenio along with an all Belizean crew. This year, we have a very high profile list of actors, musicians, producers coming in the country. One of the ladies from the Grammy Award Duo Mary Mary along with her husband, Warren Campbell, is coming in. We have Hock Islam, Jack Long-he is an actor, writer, producer, comedian. So these people are coming in for the Film Festival. And for the first time this year, we are bringing in a panel of jurors to grade the films and to give out some awards."

On Wednesday morning, the Belize Film Commission will release the official selection of sixty seven featured films which will be a part of this year's festival.

Channel 5

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Belize Film Festival Sets Records

The 7th Edition of the Belize International Film Festival is breaking records this year as it has received over 120 submissions from 24 different countries. 67 of those films were selected for the festival. But the magnitude of submissions is not the only record being broken.

The festival will open with a Belizean feature length movie directed and produced in Belize with an all Belizean cast.

It took about 6 days of filming, and we have a sneak peak of that for you now.

Matthiew Klinck - Make Belize Films
"The move is called 2012, Kurse a Di Xtabai. It's the first move, as far as I know, that is a supernatural thriller that is shot entirely in Belize with Belizean actors in Kriol. So it's really exciting. It takes place mostly out in the jungle and in the caves out behind San Antonio Village. And it's about a curse. If you've heard about Xtabai, she is basically released from an ancient Mayan, and she curses the village of San Antonio. And the Belizean Government is afraid that this fever that is spreading might leave the village and infect Belize City and other places. So they lock down the village with the military. A group of students escape out into the jungle to try to find a solution to the curse. And Like I say, it's a full Belizean cast, and we had a lot of fun."

Robin Schaffer
"What does this mean for the film festival that a Belizean film is actually going to be showing at it, and has been created for it?"

Mattiew Klinck
"I think that this huge news for the Belize Film Festival, and I think that it's huge news for Belize as well because I think that what we did here is that we proved that it's possible to create a film industry right here in Belize."

But these are not the only features which make this Film Festival exciting. In April we told you about animation workshops that were being held in Belize City. Well, that led to the development of an animation competition which, in conjunction with the Belize International Film Festival, is centered on the theme Maya Heartland 2012. Brent Tombs explained what the competition is about and what it means for Belize.

Brent Toombs - Board Secretary, BAVIA
"In conjunction with the film festival, BAVIA is once again running what we call the 'Show Me' animation competition, and we've tried to create a bit of a brand with 'Show Me'. Last year, we did a short film competition. This year, we are not doing that. We're just saying that it's strictly any animated short film that involved the theme of Maya Heartland 2012. And, we are looking for short films from 2 to 5 minutes in length, and we're going to have different categories. We're going to have 18 and under, and then over 18. For BAVIA, we're mostly concerned with the local production community. We're an association of industry professionals, people that work in audio-visual as our daily sort of bread and butter, and animation is one of the industries in Belize that we're really excited about because when you see the work that is being done, it's something that we want to encourage because obviously the type of work that we're doing, when it comes to animation, can stand on its own anywhere. And so, we're trying to encourage that as an industry association to encourage our members, and people who are interesting in this industry, to look at animation as a viable commercial opportunity."

The grand prize for the animation contest is $1000. Registration information will be announced on the BAVIA website. Tickets for the festival are available at the bliss. It is $50 to attend the opening night and walk the red carpet, and $10 per movie at the princess. The festival begins the 13th and ends on July 17th.

Channel 7

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Seventh edition of Belize Film Festival gets underway this weekend

BELIZE CITY, Belize -- It is curtains up once again as the seventh edition of the Belize International Film Festival kicks off this Friday with its traditional Red Carpet Opening Gala at the Bliss Centre in Belize City.

The film festival will expose the country to over 60 films, which will all be screened at the Princess Cinemas from July 14 to 16. Included in this year's activities is an audio visual symposium on the 16th at the House of Culture in Belize. Film awards will be presented to the winners on the 17th at the House of Culture.

The Belize International Film Festival offers the perfect opportunity to view Belizean, regional and international movies, documentaries, narratives and music videos not normally accessible to local audiences. This year, the festival will open with a triple treat of Belizean films, with the highlight being a local feature film made by Belizeans, with Belizean actors and filmed in Belize. "2012: KURSE A DI XTABAI" is completely done in the Kriol language, and produced by 'Make-Belize Films'.

According to Suzette Zayden, director of the National Film Commission, "Sixty four films were selected from an astonishing 120 entries submitted from countries like Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Chile among others. The films competing this year include narratives, feature length documentaries, short narratives and documentaries and short animations from 24 different nations."

She added, "For the first time ever, the festival has invited an international jury consisting of three renowned filmmakers: Caribbean filmmaker, Frances Anne Solomon, Central American filmmaker, Edgar Soberon Torchia and Mexican filmmaker, Oscar Urrutia Lazo"

Movies showcased during the 7th Edition of the Belize International Festival include 'Akwantu: The Journey' about Jamaica's maroon community directed by Roy T. Anderson, 'A Wonderful Day' directed by Ariel Weisbrod & Yossi Meiri and "Habanastation" by Cuban director Ian Padron.


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Directed by JUAN REYES


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Sore Local Losers At Bze International Film Festival

The 2012 Belize International Film Festival concluded this morning with the announcement of winners at the House of Culture. Among those present at this morning's ceremony were a number of film- handful of local Film Directors along with sponsors of the festival. The foreign film-makers weren't present - so the local hopefuls had their hopes up.

In fact, everyone was hoping they'd get the call to the front of the room - and while everybody couldn't be a winner - there were a lot of very sore losers -making a hometown argument - over the top film - a charming, well-made documentary about a trans-Atlantic connection to Belize - here's how it all played out:...

Monica Bodden reporting
Among those present at this morning's ceremony were a handful of local Film Directors along with sponsors of the festival.

Films in 4 categories were awarded. Those categories included Best Featured Film, Best Short Film, Best Belizean Film and Best Music Video.

Suzette Zayden - Director Belize International Film Festival
"The award ceremony is actually the closing if the festival. Today we awarded films in 4 categories; best feature film, best short film, best music video, and best Belizean film. There is a 5th category for best animated film but that's on pause for some films that were tied up."

Best featured film was awarded to Love Child - directed by Leticia Tonos from the Dominican Republic. Best short Film went to FISH Directed by SHAUN ESCAYG from Trinidad and Tobago While best MUSIC VIDEO was awarded to BABY IT'S YOU -Directed by JUAN REYES from Belize.

Best Belizean Film went to - MRS. ROBINSON Directed by THOMAS HINES- a Belizean living in the UK.

And then there was a segment in this morning's event where the judges opened the floor for other Belizean Directors to voice their concerns. With that said, things got a little overheated as emotions ran high. The film which won in the Best Belizean Film category stirred up quite a controversy.

Matthew Klinck - Belizean Film Director
"Not a single Belizean appears in that movie was not shot in Belize, it has nothing to do with Belize, it doesn't have any Belizean texture to it. I don't know what you guys were thinking but it horrible."

"I am a Belizean."

Matthew Klinck - Belizean Film Director
"I am not complaining, but that movie had nothing to do with Belize period."

Some Film makers even stormed out of the room - hot and heated.

Ras Pin- Local Film Director
"I don't know what them judges been smoking but it ain't grown in Belize. They are going to pick a movie - they got their own justifications for that but compare to like what it should be - they say they want to make a festival to make this thing bigger - support people that come here and put in work. It was just one of them things - you are saying that you want to big up the artist and big up the industry and big up this - show improve. That's all I am saying. I am not saying that it should have been our movie that got pick; It should have been a movie that actually dealt with something dealing with Belize. I am not going to call any names of the movie that won, let them figure it out, but trust me, this is robbery. This specific category was Belizeans films; they put a little catch 22 in it just to justify their equation. What it is - jobless, it ain't Belizean."

"I think what we decided is that we were not going to talk about the things - we are not going to say what we didn't like about xyz, so that's not helpful. What I will say is that I had issues with choosing Mrs. Robinson but I came around in the end and I am united with the other judges. The film maker is Belizean, his father is a black, mixed race man, his mother is an English woman who came here to live many years ago - his grandmother. They are - a Belizean story - the story is who - married an English person and she came back here and they raised a family here. That is a Belizean story and those are Belizean characters, they are not the only ones, Belize has huge diversity and I look forward in the coming years to see all those stories."

"That particular story whether you like it or not is a uniquely and authentically Belizean tale. So that's not true ok and whatever you think about it - the language that was used, the characters were all authentic out of this country."

"The best Belizean film was supposed to capture the essence of Belize. It's like what Ras-pin says, it's not that it was bad film. I saw the film and I thought it was decent, but I don't believe that that capture the essence of Belize. I can speak about the movie that I was in and I must say that we expected to win - "2012 Kurse A Di Xtabai" a full Belizean cast and shot totally in Belize and the best feature of it was that we all did what we do best - we improvised. All the actors, we improvised, we wrote that story ourselves, we acted it out as it came to our minds. Tell me that is not what us Belizeans do. That film did not capture the essence of Belize - the one that won, the best Belize film. It did not. In my opinion, in my humble opinion and I don't know nothing about cinematography."

Film Director
"She is justifying stating why the film won because the person's maybe grandmother came from England and she came to Belize and maybe married a man here and went back to England and that's the reason why the movie is pertained to Belize. That's all she is stating, nothing else."

"I am not dissing the film Mrs. Robinson, I think of a Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson." Our movie finish with the song "long time bwoy I never see you, come mek a hold yu hand." that was how our movie done."

Matthew Klinck - Belizean Film Director
"I was a little too emotional in the room but I really sincerely felt and I still feel that the film that won although I really enjoyed it was not really a Belizean film the way the judges describe it - the judging process. They say they were looking for something that was uniquely Belize, a Belizean texture, a Belizean story and all this kind of thing. It was not film in Belize, it showed no Belizean characters, there was no Belizean language such as creole. There was nothing about it that was not British. In fact the director lives in Britain as well and all the characters shown are in England and this won Best Belizean Film. I just believe so much that we need to recognize the efforts that are being made here locally to develop a film industry here for the people of Belize. I juts don't see how this movie was competing against our local film makers here. No short films or featured films or even Belizean film was awarded to a Belizean."

Film Festival Judge
"I'm offended, they sent me home and I should be home but I think that in the explanation that the president of the jury gave - she mentioned the technical aspect of productions we judge and among them Mrs. Robinson had the more standard technical level. One cannot forget that the worst cinema has develop to a point that there is a standard way of telling things and If I am going to take the opposite film by the Canadian actor - turned film maker - I must say that it has immense technical flaws. I know his intentions was good but it had immense technical flaws and my main opposition to the film is that it took a Belizean mate and turn it as interpret by other people as a dark woman with dark hair and a beautiful Xtabai and it turning into this monster the blond wig and face of a lion. I don't think they should be shouting, they should make other films and learn to do better cinema."

Suzette Zayden - Director Belize International Film Festival
"Whenever you have more than one people competing for an award somebody would not be the winner. In this case the ones who were in the room were not the winner of this award and of course naturally felt some disappointment at not winning. Unfortunately not everyone can be winners. We thought the wisest thing to do would be to invite an international jury that would choose the Belizean films amongst other films - that best define what for them a film should be."

Best Animated Film is still in the judging process.

Channel 5

International Film Festival is a hit

2012-The Curse of the Ixtabi

The Seventh Belize International Film Festival opened in grand fashion on Friday night. Love TV's Patrick Jones and video journalist Myles Gillett attended opening night and bring you the following report.


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Film Festival Winner Defends His Work As Thoroughly Belizean

Last night on the news - you heard all the ruckus coming out of the Belize International Film Festival over the judges' choice of the Best Belizean Film.

The film that won is named Mrs. Robinson - a charming story of 83 year old Patricia Robinson - who - after five decades in Belize returned to England to live out her last years.

Robinson was the British wife of a Belizean born creole, Eugene Robinson - and the couple made their life in Belize.

Part of that life is Thomas Hines - Patricia's grandson - who grew up in Belize and is now studying film-making in the UK.

The judges thought his film was the best, but his local competitors thought it somehow wasn't Belizean enough.

Today we spoke to Hines via telephone. He's studying in the UK - and told us his film is Belizean through and through:

Thomas Hines - Winner, Best Belizean Film, BIFF (Via Telephone)
"No, not at all, I am not hurt, I wouldn't say. I entered the film to get a chance in Belize because that's where I'm from, Canaan High School. You really can't more Belizean than that. I didn't enter it thinking I would win, the success is a surprise. I am a bit sorry, not hurt; nor do I feel any agression toward it. I feel that it should be a natural. Everyone is saying that it's a British character, and not a Belizean actor, and it wasn't flimed in Belize. But it is."

Jules Vasquez
"Is this something that may stop you in the future from saying that you are a Belizean film-maker?"

Thomas Hines
"No, not at all, I'm a Belizean film-maker through and through. I was born and raised in Belize. The main reason for me being in the UK is to get my skills in film-making up to a level that I can come back to Belize. Just because we're white or anything like that, doesn't mean that we're not Belizean. As I said, my grandfather moved to the country of Belize, and my grandmother has been there for most her life. So, I don't see why any this even happened. People are actually complaining about it. They should look into the history of our family, and then they'll actually realize that we're Belizean from a long time ago."

You can see his 15 minute film on VIMEO:

Channel 7

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