Wednesday night, local and international filmmakers will converge on Belize for the 14th edition of the Belize International Film Festival.
This year, the Festival features 62 film entries and 15 music videos.
This morning, the Festival's founder, Suzette Zayden, told the press why the public should take an interest and attend:
Suzette Zaiden - Founder, BIFF "We're about to start the 14th Edition of the Belize International Film Festival tomorrow. With us today is our guest speaker, who will be giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony tomorrow at 7, Mr. Mark Ang."
"We start tomorrow with 2 films, with an opening short called My Father Belize, which will start promptly at 6, and after that, there will be a half-hour, during which there's an intermission, a red-carpet cocktail, and at 7, we start the ceremonies inside the Bliss, after which, it will be followed by the opening feature from Taiwan, called Unhappiness Road."
"On Thursday, we feature the Green Globe category, which is an environmental section, which we have been working on with Belize's environmental community. That is 2 screenings at the Bliss, for schools and anyone who's interested at 9:30 a.m., and at 1:30. And there are a few films about environmental issues that will be screened at that time. At night, a 6 o'clock, there will be a panel discussion on issues of importance to Belize's environmental community, and what should be important to us as Belizeans as well, which is 3 panel discussions on topics such as sargassum, what's happening with sargassum, the issue of the ban on styrofoam and single-use plastics. It hasn't been enacted yet. So, what's going on, and what's the next move, as well, the last topic will be on the new coral disease that's happening right now and affecting our reefs."
"The movies start on Thursday as well at the Princess, 7 and 9. On Thursday, also, is our film market."
"On Friday, we have films again at the Princess at 7 and 9 as well, and we have a film industry mixer. We're speaking with Commonwealth Foundation. There's a representative from the Commonwealth Foundation writer's conference that will be here. They want to talk to you guys, who are making films, all of you here, and anyone from the Caribbean about providing funding for your next initiative."
"On Saturday, we're at the Princess again starting from about midday, with the films. You can make a whole day of film watching. In the morning, there's going to be a screenwriting workshop that will be led by the Commonwealth Foundation."
"We're also having on Saturday the public screening of shorts in the Park at the Digi Park at 7 p.m."
"And in the night, we're going to do a Music video night at Thursday Thursdays, where the 15 selected music videos for this year will be promoted in a party atmosphere. And then, we close on Sunday with a concert here at the Bliss."
This year, the Festival's keynote speaker is a celebrated filmmaker from out of Taiwan. He's Mark Ang, and since his career started, he has won over 50 awards in Festivals around the world. Like most filmmakers in Belize, he didn't study filmmaking at some fancy university in Taiwan. But, his passion and drive to pursue this career path have gained him international success.
So, we asked him about what advice he could give to Belizeans who aspire to be filmmakers themselves. Here's what he had to say:
Mark Ang - Taiwanese Filmmaker "Actually, I saw some of Belize's locally produced films or music videos. I found that they're all maturely produced, I mean no matter the quality of the editing. So, I think there are a lot of talented filmmakers here. I think the lack is financial support because it actually happens in Taiwan. The difference is that the base in Taiwan is so big. The history of the movie industry has been a hundred years in Taiwan. And we have at least 200 to 400 pieces of short films produced every year from all the filmmaking schools in Taiwan. And of course, we have a lot of companies willing to support, and a lot of subsidies from the Government. Also, there has been a period of time where we are lacking in resources. Even now, we have make films by ourselves."
"The internet is a very useful tool for nowadays."
"I found that after like 10 years, I found that there are so many students in the so-called internet generation, they can learn how to make a film from the internet in only a year. And they then become internet celebrities with a lot of very high-quality videos. Talking about learning and training, the internet is a good tool."
"As for the fundraising, the financial part. I think it's a really difficult part. So, my suggestion is to make films the fewer the costs, the better."
"I think that Belize is very close to Mexico, and a little bit far, but still close to the United States. And I suggest that you can find financial support from both big countries."
The Festival runs from tomorrow night until Sunday. Winners will receive their honors at the closing ceremony.
14th Edition Of The Belize Film Festival
A Film About Fatherhood and Loss
The Belize International Film Festival started tonight and the first film up for viewing is a short called "My Father Belize."
The Film was written, directed, and produced by a duo of American born Belizean cousins.
"My Father Belize" has been making the rounds of the regional film festivals and earning praise and acclaim along the way. Today the cast presented the film to Belizean media ahead of the film festival and told us that this selection was always their ultimate dream:
Cherisse Halsall reporting
My father Belize is the story of a US born Belizean man who travels to Belize to scatter the ashes of his deceased father, only to discover that he himself conceived a son during a past visit to the country. Now, he must face his own conflicted feelings about fatherhood caused by the estranged relationship he had with the man who gave him life.
Ron Sierra, Writer, Producer "It's family and I mean we all know how important family is and connecting with family. So that's kind of what we really wanted to bring in relationships and mending and helping heal but we do it in a way where it's not boring, it's not completely dramatic, we have great elements of some laughs which we love to laugh and we all have a family member that can bring out that laughter within us when there's moments of like pain and or like drama within our lives. Mr. Kirby Garcia here he does an amazing job of bringing that out within the film, so the meat of the film is basically family."
Director Leon Lozano and Writer Ron Sierra, are family--cousins--both of them born in the United States to parents who are immigrants from Belize. In writing and creating "My father Belize' the two sought to share their passion for their heritage, the beauty of Belize, and the stories that only Belizeans can tell.
Leon Lozano, Director, Writer, Producer "All in all we're exploring the theme of fatherhood in the film."
"Most of the impactful moments are built around Sean's struggle with his own father who's deceased and then accepting this reality that he may be a dad himself."
Neil Hall, PR NICH"The beauty behind this film is not only the fact that it's celebrating Belize and it's bringing attention to Belize and its culture and its people but also because it has been winning awards in the United States at various different film festivals and we are very happy to have it here in Belize and to have it showcasing Belize."
Actors Kerby Garcia and Keisha Sierra told the press that they are eager to see more film projects that are uniquely Belizean produced by the great pool of talent that they found here while making the film.
Kerby Garcia, Plays "Cousin Nigel" in My father Belize "Belize has got major talent, you know, so it's really heartwarming to come back home and represent our country you know there are people coming inside our country that are just taking bits and pieces of it but we want to make sure that we show the really Belize so if you want to see a movie that's heartwarming , you know, and that's just touching and just shows you the real Belize come see my father Belize."
Keisha Sierra, Plays "Aura" in My father Belize "I feel like this film is really shining a light on who we are and what we're about, from the food to the music, the people, I mean Kerby does a great job at really bringing in the personality you know the full flavor that we have. So I truly hope that you enjoy this movie as much as we enjoyed making it."
My father Belize is premiering now at the Bliss Center For The Performing Arts but if you're missing it, you can catch it again within the Belize International film Festival on Friday night at 7:00 at the Princess Hotel and Casino.
14th edition of the Belize International Film Festival
Kendis Gibson, Journalist and News Reporter for MSNBC, was in town to host the 14th edition of the Belize International Film Festival. He stopped by to talk with us about his experiences and his thoughts about the growing local film industry.
Belize International Film Festival - Accomplished jurors about film industry
Belize hosts the 14th edition of the Belize International Film Festival. We talked with three of the accomplished jurors about film industry. On our couch: Mark Ang - Founder , Formosa Festival of International Filmmaker Awards Natalie Thompson - Producer/Director Chris Pak - Producer
What Happens During the Belize IFF?
The 14th Belize International Film Festival (Belize IFF) ends on Sunday, November 10th with a closing ceremony at the Bliss Center in Belize City. Dozens of films, shorts, and documentaries from across the planet have been curated to be shown to a Belizean audience. A special category for local music videos was created to highlight content creators in Belize who do not often get recognition for their craft. That public viewing takes place at Thirsty’s Belize City on Saturday night while a free public viewing of films are showcased also on Saturday night at the Digi Park. While these venues are hoping to attract new people to film, traditional viewing takes place at both the Bliss Center and the Ramada Princess Cinema. Regional movies are highlighted as well as productions that have been done in Belize. HARPOON and MY FATHER BELIZE lead the pack with US and Canada teams while several other films are homegrown.
During the growth of Belize IFF, the Film Commission and the Festival Director have worked on developing the talent in Belize. This year, Belize FMAU Screenwriting Cohort Program was offered to members of the Belize Writers Guild with the assistance of FinalDraft to tutor writers how to adapt ideas and stories into 15 minute screenplays. FinalDraft personnel and filmmaker Chris Pack and the Script Writers Network have assisted with the cohort guided by the Film Festival Director Suzette Zayden. Zayden works extensively with the Belize Film Commissioner Nigel P. Miguel.
Holding back no qualms about the future of the industry, Miguel says “This year’s opening night shows the advancement of the festival, we were able to mesh two cultures and showcase the Belizean Experience in this year’s opening night film. Our young film industry is becoming of age. There’s an old hip hop verse that says “You Can Either Lead, Follow, or Get Out the Way” we choose to lead, The Belizean Film Industry has arrived.”
One of the Festival’s guests Mark Ang, flew from Taiwan just to share remarks at the opening night. Ang, a filmmaker, a screenwriter, a film festival organizer, and the founder of Formosa Festival of International Filmmaker Awards, the CEO of the 58th Asia Pacific Film Festival. Since 2014, Mark has been awarded 56 times in different film festivals around the world with his short film "Replace”.
The festival has been a long time love affair for Festival Director Suzette Zayden. Zayden fondly reflects on the start of the journey by saying “When we celebrated the first Belize International Film Festival in 2003, our key objectives were to expose Belizean audiences to films they would not normally see from different countries around the world; and, to create a space where the filmmakers could interact with aspiring filmmakers thereby stimulating the creation of films from Belize and our Caribbean and Central American region.”
This year veteran location managers were invited to share with Belize’s talent and those who want to break into the industry. They met during a session at the Princess and along with the film commissioner, they explained that the meeting was only a small part of a three year commitment they have made with the film commissioner to assist in the growth of location scouts and managers. An online seminar is in the works for the near future.
The jurists for this year’s festival are hardworking industry professionals. Natalie Thompson’s international credits include Line Producer and Production Manager on Cocktail, Cool Runnings, Prelude to a Kiss, Instinct, How Stella Got her Groove Back, Small island, Knight and Day, Third World Cop, Ghetta Life and most recently No Time to Die. She was co-producer and Production Manager on Sprinter and Line Producer – Jamaica on the Idris Elba helmed Yardie . In Television, she has worked as Production Manager on Top Boy and Marvel’s Luke Cage when they filmed in Jamaica.
Chris Pack is known as a producer and manager of four seasons of HGTV’s hit TV show, Island Hunters (seven of which filmed in Belize). Chris’ award-winning productions and Emmy nominated productions have aired on networks such as Bravo, Lifetime, Style Network, FOX, USA, TLC, History, MTV, E!, Comedy Central, OWN and the Discovery Channel. Chris is Co-Chair of the Producers Guild of America Employment committee West and member of The Television Academy.
Denise Williams Watts is Head of Video Production at Apple Music/iTunes who leads content across all music related video projects for the US and International. She is the former VP of Creative & Visual Content for Warner Bros.
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell who since 2014 has starred in NCIS: New Orleans as recurring-turned-main character Patton Plame, a computer specialist for NCIS. In 2018, he joined the cast of Fear The Walking Dead portraying Wendell, one of the characters trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.
The Festival has also adopted a social consciousness and part of the sessions include the Green Globe “Fostering a Green Belize in the 21st Century” Panel Discussion. This year’s The discussion focused on Sargassum, the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and the follow up to the Single Use Plastic and Styrofoam Ban legislation and can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2K0UECE
Festival Director Zayden goes on to say “Today, 17 years later, we celebrate our 14th edition and there is a clear difference in the filmscape of Belize. There are 13 films and 15 Music Videos that were either made by Belizeans, about Belize or Belizeans or featuring Belizeans in a lead role in this year’s BelizeIFF. The Festival has become the bridge connecting Belizean filmmakers living in Belize and those in the diaspora paving the way for future collaborations. A film legislation will soon be drafted and there is a definite rise in the interest in film as a career option by our youth. While affordable technology has played a role, we at BelizeIFF certainly believe that the Festival has also done its part to nurture the dream of a Belizean Film Industry.”
With continued support from local businesses and the environmental community, the Festival will continue. But the Belize International Film Festival will reap not only by what is shown during in November but by the educational measures that also take place during the year while the curtains are closed in the theater.
Re: Belize International Film Festival 2019
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San Pedrano starring in film to be featured at annual Belize International Film Festival
Well-known local entrepreneur and actor, San Pedrano Horacio Louis Guerrero will grace the red carpet of the Belize International Film Festival on Saturday, November 9th, for his role as the villain in a short Belizean film. Titled ‘Time Fu Eat,’ the 15-minute film will be featured at the festival’s 14th edition to take place at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts in Belize City commencing at 7PM sharp.
Written by Carlo and Andre Habet, and later produced by Veritas Productions, the debut film it’s a unique Belizean dark comedy. It explores the various ways in which people’s lives are impacted by socio-economic pressure and political corruption. The production casts a light on the way contemporary Belizeans hustle for money, fame, and the next plate of food. According to the Habets, they had plans to bring out such a production from some time ago. Carlo got the cast together while Andre monitored the production. They were both pleased with the performance and finished product.
Re: Belize International Film Festival 2019
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The 14th Edition of the Belize International Film Festival (Belize IFF) took place from November 6th to 10th. The Belize IFF had culminated with an award show on the closing night. The 5 days showcased Belizean, regional and global films in several categories. The most entries from Belizean artists came in the Music Video category, created to highlight the local music industry. The winner of the Feature Narrative category is PAN DE SALAWAL. The winner of the Feature Documentary category is BAKOSO: AFROBEATS OF CUBA. The winner of the Short Docs category is SORISSO-LEGENDADO. The winner of the Shorts category is FLIGHT. MY FATHER BELIZE and TECUANI and the DUENDE both tied as winners of the Best Belizean Film. The winner of the Branded Entertainment category is MACAW. The winner of the Music Video category is Nicole Craig- RAISE MY VOICE ft. Asheigh Craig.
My Father Belize tied in first place for best Belizean Short Film
The Belize International Film Festival came to close last night. My Father Belize tied in first place for best Belizean Short Film. The cast and crew from the film were our guests to talk about the creative process and the future of film in Belize. On our couch: Leon Lozano - Director, My Father Belize Ron Oscar Sierra - Writer/Producer, My Father Belize Arlin Escarpeta - Actor, My Father Belize
The Winners of the 2019 Belize International Film Festival
On Sunday, the fourteenth edition of the Belize International Film Festival closed with the announcement of the winners of this year’s festival. There were a total of seven categories for which submissions were made. Among the winners were “The Sweet Taste of Salted Bread and Undies” for best feature narrative; “Bakoso: Afrobeats of Cuba” got best feature documentary. Meanwhile, “My Father Belize” and “Tecuani and the Duende” both tied for first place in the best Belizean short film category. The best music video was “Raise My Voice” by Nicole Craig featuring Ashleigh Craig. Here are some highlights of the winners:
The Winners of the 2019 Belize International Film Festival are…
The National Institute of Culture and History, through the Institute of Creative Arts and the Film and Media Arts Unit, held the Closing Awards Ceremony for the 14th Edition of the Belize International Film Festival’s Awards on Sunday, 10th November at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.
The event was hosted by Mr. William Neal and filled with engaging performances by the National Youth Orchestra of Belize. Awards were presented by Chris Pack, Natalie Thompson and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, the Jurors, to the Winners in the Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Documentary, Short Film, Belizean Short Film, Branded Entertainment and Music Video categories.
The Winners of the 2019 Belize International Film Festival are:
Best Feature Narrative “The Sweet Taste of Salted Bread and Undies (Pan de Salawal)” Honourable Mention – “Being Impossible”
Best Feature Documentary “Bakoso: Afrobeats of Cuba” Honourable Mention – “The lure of this Land”
Best Short Documentary “Smile (Sorriso – Legendado)” Honourable Mention –“Eworth”
Best Short Film “Flight”
Best Belizean Short Film “My Father Belize” and “Tecuani and the Duende” both tied for first place. Honourable Mention – “Time Fu Eat”
Best Branded Entertainment “Macaw”
Best Music Video “Raise My Voice” by Nicole Craig featuring Ashleigh Craig Honourable Mention – “Hamala (Let Him Fly)” by The Garifuna Collective
Ms. Sapna Budhrani, President of The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), Mr. Nigel Miguel, Film Commissioner of Belize, and Ms. Suzette Zayden Festival Founder and Director, were at this year's Belize International Film Festival Award Ceremony sharing optimism in the growth of the Belizean Film and Media industry and their next Film Festival.
The Belize International Film Festival created a video of all this year's winners. Tecuani & the Duende won twice, and the Belikin video about the Chiquibul also won an award.