3 Films to Represent Belize in CARIFESTA
CARIFESTA is the Caribbean festival of arts held every two years by CARICOM AND CARIFORUM countries to celebrate the best in Caribbean culture through music, literary arts, visual arts, theatre, dance and film. Over the years we have seen local musicians, dancers, visual artists others in the creative sector participate, but it has been a while since Belize has made its presence felt through film. This year, Belize hopes to show off its best through three films selected to screen in the thirteenth edition of CARIFESTA later this month. One telenovela and two short films, all previous winners at Belize’s International Film Festival, made the cut and will be screened alongside films from across the region. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has more.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
“La Isla Bonita” is a locally produced telenovela about life on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The telenovela showcases the good, bad and ugly of living on Belize’s number one island. It is yet to find a network home – but this August its pilot will screen during the CARIFESTA Film showcase in Barbados. It is just one of three Belizean films that was selected to be screened at this regional film festival.
Suzette Zayden, Director, Film & Media Arts Unit, ICA
“We as a country did not decide what films would be represented – would represent Belize at the festival. That was left up to the organizers of the film festival at CARIFESTA and there was a chance that none would have been selected from Belize because they were very keen that the films that were selected were of a high sufficient quality that could represent the Caribbean.”
Telenovela “La Isla Bonita” pilot won best dramatic TV series in 2015 at the Belize International film festival. Short film “I had to do it” is a thirty minute film on domestic violence. The third film is another short film of twelve minutes called ‘Manna’ directed by a Belizean who lives in the U.S. Both short films have won at the film festival. These films represent some of the best film work by Belizeans in recent years.
“These three films have been going around and have been applying to quite a few places recently. In fact, I think Manna also won a place in the Caribbean Tales screening in Canada that is screening in September. We are very happy to see that they have been selected and they are being screened in the Caribbean. Because it has been about ten years’ since Katia Paradis’ films was made and a very well done documentary about three of our legendary musicians as you know and it kinda been the go to film that we go to every time we are asked to submit a film on Belize because up until these films were made it was pretty much the best script and technically made film that we thought could represent Belize sufficiently on an international stage.”
And being represented in CARIFESTA’s film festival is good news for Belize’s budding film industry.
“The screening of these films in CARIFESTA is important because the Caribbean film movement is moving. It is starting to take off. We have seen lots of films coming out of Trinidad. They have lots of incentives for local film makers and they also have been provided some sort of assistance for their film makers to travel with their films. So, there is more conversation from Trinidad’s films than would be if only the films went. We have always known that Jamaica has had some films and continue make new films and they are pushing; they have new drives. Barbados has a film school; the UWI section as well as the Caribbean Creative, I believe. They have a film school so they are starting to push out films and they have had a few feature films under their belt, as well. And so for that reason pretty much whenever people talk about film in the Caribbean they automatically think Trinidad, or Jamaica. So, by having these Belize films out we become part of the conversation. When they start talking about Caribbean films, they will say Trinidad, Jamaica, Belize. We will be recognized and so the films and presence of two of the film makers are going and so with their presence they will be able to drum up enough interaction and publicity for people to understand that Belize film makers exist and Belize film here is and it is gonna keep growing.”