The Belize International Film Festival, now in it’s 8th year, will run from July 11 – 15. The Festival’s opening night film will be Home Again, a feature film by Sudz Sutherland, shot in Canada and Jamaica, and will also feature the Red Carpet event and cocktail gala. In addition to Feature films, Documentaries, and Short films, the Festival also showcases Music Videos. The films participating in the Festival will be screened at Princess Cinemas, and in Orange Walk, Belize City, San Pedro, San Ignacio, and the Institute of Mexico. For a look at the complete Festival schedule, with movie dates and times, check here.
Let’s take a look at the Caribbean films participating in this year’s festival:
Returning to a “home” they hardly knew, three deportees from very different backgrounds adjust to life in Kingston, Jamaica, after being exiled from their adopted countries. Marva (Tatyana Ali, THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR) struggles to adapt, longing for the two kids she was forced to leave behind in Canada. New Yorker Dunston (Lyriq Bent, FOUR BROTHERS, SAW series) turns to Rastafarianism as he gets caught in an escalating gang war. Everton (Stephan James, DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION), an upper-crust London schoolboy, learns to live life on the streets. A sweltering drama, this film is a timely critique of immigration policy, but more importantly, a redemptive story about discovering one’s roots. Official Selection, 2012 Toronto Film Festival; 2013 Pan African Film Festival. This is the opening night film.
From the director of “El Beny,” comes this vibrant, sexy, and very Cuban musical about love, racism, and double standards. Alejandro and Liz are college students, each with their own dreams and aspirations. Alejandro is black and wants a career in sports management; Liz comes from an upper middle class family from the well-to-do neighborhood of Miramar. Both have to overcome their parents’ rejection as well as put an end to relationships that are tying them down before they can live hopelessly together.
Calypso Rose, the ambassador of Caribbean music, is a living legend, a charismatic character and the uncontested diva of Calypso Music. Traveling with Rose from Paris to New York via Trinidad & Tobago and back to Africa, we learn a little more about the many faces and facets of her life. It is a film not only about memory, the exchange and discovery of world cultures, but also the journey of a militant and authentic woman, an Afro-Caribbean soul, an exemplary artist, far from the glitz and glitter, at the dawn of her life.
Watch the trailer here:
THE ABOMINABLE CRIME, at heart, is a story about a mother’s love for her child and an activist’s troubled love for his country. It also gives voice to gay Jamaicans who, in the face of endemic anti-gay violence, are forced to flee their homeland. Told first hand as they unfold, these personal accounts take the audience on an emotionally gripping journey traversing four years and five countries. Their stories expose the roots of homophobia in Jamaican society, reveal the deep psychological and social impacts of discrimination on the lives of gays and lesbians, and offer an intimate first-person perspective on the risks and challenges of seeking asylum abroad.
Watch the trailer here:
Tonight, Anai feels more alone than ever. Iana, his twin sister, is dead and her body is being watched. All mirrors are covered in the old house. Sheltered in his room, Anai breaks the rules and faces the black mirror. Will the dark mirror show an image of IANA or ANAI? Anai goes in search of an answer.
While in his butchery, Ivan is visited by Marushka, a fat client with whom he holds a very special relationship. Between the back room and the freezer room, they have an erotic ritual that mixes fantasy with Siberian evocation. When they reach the climax, Susana, Ivan’s wife, interrupts, unchaining a sequence of violent acts of which only one of them will survive.
The trombonist of a funeral band, petrified by his rhythmic life, dives in his desires, anguishes and memories. Epic battles, and creative and sexual frustrations drive him to multiple crossroads, which constantly bolster the question, who are you?
Raul and Amanda, an elderly couple, are living in the midst of the hot Cuban countryside. Amanda has an obsession to know the snow, leading to absurd attempts to realize this dream. Amanda is ready to go, but Raul decides to bring home the winter instead. Install Oslo, their idyllic destination in the small room.
When Sherry, a British subject, suddenly goes missing on Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad, her sweetheart Anton, a Trinidad national, receives a ransom call. With the assistance of his bloodthirsty friend Jackson, Anton blazes a bloody trail in a bid to recover her alive and unharmed only to stumble unto a shocking discovery.
Watch the trailer here:
Saia wants to get an old lover back and in order to do so she lets herself be infected with HIV. From there, Saia must decide for the life of her lover and her own.
In this inspirational documentary, we witness the contributions of nine remarkable women to the Aruban community. Driven by their love of family and a passion for making a difference, they strive relentlessly to improve the socio-economic and cultural landscape of their beloved island. All without expecting anything in return.
Watch the trailer here:
Women of Chinese descent in Trinidad occupy a space that is simultaneously visible and invisible. Despite national and regional acknowledgment of this ethnic minority group’s significant cultural and economic influence, female voices are notably absent within the academic literature and early migration history. The mixed-Chinese claim and varying degrees of Chinese heritage also co-exist with recent migrants in the fourth wave of Chinese migration to Trinidad. What does it mean to be simultaneously visible and invisible? What purposes are served by existing in the space in-between? Chinee Girl focuses on fifteen female subjects occupying various social locations. A contemporary portrait of Trinidadian Chinese identity emerges through their stories, questioning how one defines ethnicity and identity in a Caribbean space. For more information, check out the film’s FB page.
Watch the trailer here:
The jury for this year’s Festival include some well-known faces:
Erika Alexander is an American actress “discovered” early on by a veritable who’s who of film, theatre and television. Famed producers Merchant and Ivory “discovered” her in a basement theater in Philadelphia and cast her as the lead in, My Little Girl. She was then “discovered” by theater legend Peter Brook for his epic Royal Shakespeare Company production, The Mahabharata. And if this weren’t enough, TV icon Bill Cosby then “discovered” Erika, and created the role of “Cousin Pam” for her on The Cosby Show.After which she starred for five years as fan favorite “Maxine Shaw” in the hit series Living Single, winning two NAACP awards for Best Actress in a Comedy.Alexander’s recent film and theatre and TV work has been equally distinguished. On screen she co- starred opposite Denzel Washington in Tony Scott’s Deja Vu and director Steven Soderbergh’s independent feature, Full Frontal with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt and recently co-starred in the film Elsa And Fred with Shirley Maclain and Christopher Plummer. On stage, Erika has starred in six plays at New York’s Public Theater, most recently garnering accolades in The Story opposite Tony-winner Phylicia Rashad. And on TV she recurs on the new AMC drama series, Low Winter Sun, the ABC Tim Allen comedy, Last Man Standing and BET’s, Let’s Stay Together. A national surrogate for Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign, and a 2008 William J. Clinton Foundation delegate to Africa, Erika is also an advocate for at-risk youth and for women and girls.
Denise Williams Watts is the VP of Creative & Visual Content for Warner Bros. Records andexcels at bringing the best out of people. As a former renowned marketing wizard for Warner Bros. Records, Watts helped make emerging artists like Jaheim, Eric Benet, Crime Mob, Mike Jones and others into household names. In her current position Watts has been instrumental in expanding the reach and breadth of Warner Bros. Recordsartists from overall creative direction in music videos to innovative DVD projects, web-based programming, feature films and musicals. “I’m always looking for new opportunities for artists,” she says. “I love to be able to give artists another route of expression outside of their music.”Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Watts was encouraged to bring the best out of herself by her Belizean mother and grandmother. They instilled in Watts a drive to succeed, a willingness to be independent and the ability to be open-minded. When her friends urged her to be in a singing group, for instance, Williams had other objectives. “I was always the one like, ‘No. I need to be behind the scenes,’” she says.
Rigoberto Lopez is a distinguished Cuban director who also happens to be the founder and President o Traveling Caribbean Film Showcase, a regional initiative recognized by CARICOM. A graduate of Political Sciences at the University in Havana, he began working at the Film Division for the National TV Station before moving over in 1971 to the Cuban Film Institute, ICAIC. He has filmed on location in Europe, Africa, the US and the Caribbean and his work in fiction and documentary have received multiple prizes and recognitions both nationally and internationally. He has participated in workshops and seminars about Cuban culture and film around the world and been a member of the Jury at several International Festivals. Rigoberto’s latest feature length film, “Scent of Oak”, a controversial historical piece, closed the 3rd Belize International Film Festival in 2005.
Sandy Lieberson has been a major figure in the film industry in Europe and America since the 1960s, having acted as agent for among others, Sergio Leone, Peter Sellers, Lindsay Anderson and the Rolling Stones. After producing Performance and Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus, he formed Goodtime/VPS with David Puttnam in 1970, going on to produce some of the most significant films of the 1970s and 1980s. From 1977 Sandy was first vice president of International Pictures and Marketing and later president of production at 20th Century Fox, supervising the international launches of, among others, the early Star Wars films, and supervising the production of films by Herzog, Roeg, Bertolucci, Zinneman, Kurosawa and Ridley Scott. Founder and Chair of Film London, Sandy launched the ground breaking Microwave Fund, Artists Moving Image and Production Finance Market. One of the founders of The Berlin Talent Campus and originator of the Producers Course at the NFTS, Sandy is currently an advisor and contributor to a wide range of organizations and projects dedicated to the development of talent and skill in the film and media industries.