Filmmakers

A new breed of film directors is emerging around the Caribbean. Here you can find inspiring tales and ideas for taking your script to the big screen.

HAMAfilms Antigua to release super natural thriller The Skin, June 2011

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – June promises to be a very special month for film lovers as HAMA (Howard and Mitzi Allen) will premiere their fourth and most ambitious movie ‘The Skin’, a super natural thriller written and directed by Howard Allen.

‘The Skin’ is a modern story filled with Caribbean folklore about Michael and Lisa (Brent Simon & Aisha Ralph) who are a young married couple on the verge of losing their home. Their luck changes when Michael, while on a photo-shoot at the historic Betty’s Hope Estate discovers an ancient vase and sells it to an antique dealer (Jeff Stewart).

The couple gets little time to celebrate their good fortune before strange things begin to happen. They are introduced to a Jamaican mystic (Carl Bradshaw) who informs them that the ancient relic was not really a blessing but a curse.

Fans of HAMA’s work will not have to wait long as a trailer and behind the scenes footage will start airing on ABS and cable television from May 11th. This project has garnered support from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Edmond Mansoor, says HAMA Productions represents a brand of media excellence that converges professionalism with high end creativity and captures the multiple attributes of the plural Caribbean Society.

“The Government, through the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications, salutes Howard and Mitzi Allen for another first-class production. The Ministry is absolutely delighted to promote this absolutely creative movie”, Dr Mansoor added.

The film incorporates the sights and sounds of Antigua & Barbuda including music by Kaiso Joe, Charmain Bailey and Promise.

Howard and Mitzi are confident that this film will show how much they have grown as film makers: “I feel that the screenplay is truly a story written for the screen, it’s written from a very visual place. It’s also the first film where I had a full crew, a Director of Photography (DP), Professor Steven Torriano Berry of Howard University who also brought along his crew, film students, who concentrated on the technical side of film making.  This meant that I could focus on directing instead of doing everything else from being the DP to the sound engineer.”

Working with a crew also was another learning curve as Mitzi explains: “For almost 20 years, three movies and countless TV programmes and documentaries, we have pretty much done everything ourselves and have developed our own shorthand. However, working with a full crew meant that we had to include others in the decision-making and planning. For me as a producer, it also meant that now I had to manage a team of people whilst at the same time ensure that the film was finished on time and within the budget.”

‘The Skin’ features an ensemble cast of first timers and veterans and the buzz from a preview screening in Barbados at Caribbean Tales Film Festival is that the cast and film is sensational:

“They’ve got everything, a love story, action thriller and special effects. What they have is something that will make people flock to the cinema,” says Neema Barnette, Emmy award winning producer/director and a professor at the renowned UCLA school of Film and Television.

“The Skin is a film that has found its audience. The directors first feature film The Sweetest Mango was a hit this just might be an even bigger hit,” says Kethiwe Ngcobo, Producer, Infuzion Media.

Actress/Entrepreneur Dionne Audain returning home for YES Caribbean

BRADES, Montserrat – It’s been 20 years since actress Dionne Audain has visited her homeland of Montserrat and she is returning as a presenter and instructor at YES Caribbean, a conference for entrepreneurs May 25-28, 2011 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre.

Dionne left Montserrat at the age of seven prior, having grown up around Plymouth and later St. Johns in the North.

“This opportunity is quite necessary at this point in my career. So much has happened since I’ve been there socially, politically, economically and of course geographically. Now coming back as an actor/ entrepreneur it’s going to be great to share my experience, my expertise as well as catch up and tour the island and see my family and best childhood friends,” Dionne said of her upcoming visit.

The actress has been racking up her acting credentials over the past decade. She will be on island to be a feature presenter at YES Caribbean 2011 and also lead the Movie in a Week project, which will teach production skills which can be used to make full length feature films or to add visual elements to small business promotions.

“I am very pleased that Dionne accepted our invitation and has jumped enthusiastically into the project to help build our visual expertise. As a region we need to show the many different facets of our islands. This includes improving how we promote our businesses.We need to showcase Montserrat more and in many different ways. The more persons with the skills and the capacity to show the island and the Caribbean through their eyes, the more exposure we can bring to our business and our economies,” said Nerissa Golden, organizer of the conference.

Dionne Audain is known for her powerful performances delivered with genuine authenticity with major credits in television, feature films and national and regional commercials.  Audain has tackled roles from a preacher’s wife to secret service agent, proving that she has both breadth and depth as an actress.  This incredibly talented actress began her career as consultant in corporate America before beginning her journey into acting.

Moviegoers were introduced to Audain in her independent film debut A Shepherd of Pure Heart (DVD, 2003). Audain gave a standout performance as Elizabeth Upton, a supportive, loving and demanding wife.  In early 2005, Audain was seen in indie short Tuffy Low-low, as Mrs. Ward, a tough administrator in charge of a private nursing home.  Other indie film supporting roles include The Evils, Like Water, Finding My Precious Basquiat, The Euphoria Project, Poof and Manuel Chavez.

Audain made her feature film debut as an actor portraying Abe Lincoln in the comedy/drama Rocket Science (2006) for director Jeff Blitz, a story about a teenage boy with a horrific stuttering problem who joins his high-school debate team in an ill-fated effort to win the girl of his dreams.  In early 2009 Dionne was handpicked for a role by Joel Schumacher himself, for his latest feature film Twelve.  The film’s cast includes such notables as Keifer Sutherland, Chance Crawford, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson slated for release in 2010.  She filmed Salt which stars Angelina Jolie and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Her other films of note include: Sex And The City 2 where she’s featured as a teacher at Brady’s school in a scene with Cynthia Nixon; The Happening where she got the opportunity to work with director M. Night Shyamalan and alongside Zoë Deschanel despite her scene being cut; Rocket Science directed by Jeff Blitz with actors Nicholas D’Agosto, Margo Martindale, Vincent Piazza, Reece Thompson and Aaron Yoo.

Dionne’s television work includes a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a re-occurring role on the hit HBO series The Wire alongside Dominic West, the short-lived FX series Starved with Del Pentecost, All My Children and America’s Most Wanted.

The NY Times hailed that in her stage work Dionne “has a nice, natural air…” She has toured nationally with The John F. Kennedy Center, appeared off-Broadway at venues such as Urban Stages, The Queens Company, Roundtable Ensemble, Target Margin Theater and has worked regionally at Arena Stage, African Continuum Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Theatre of The First Amendment, Shakespeare & Company and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.  Dionne also has numerous local, regional and national commercials and print campaigns for companies such as BlackberryGov.com, Subway, Walmart, Maryland Lottery, Bath Fitter and Health Care for America Now.

To learn more about Audain and the Movie in a Week project visit www.yes.trulycaribbean.net or email info@trulycaribbean.net.

ENDS

 

Photo Caption: Actress Dionne Audain will be returning to her homeland of Montserrat for YES Caribbean May 25-28, 2011, a conference for entrepreneurs.

CTales 2011 pushing Caribbean films

Participants and filmmakers in the CaribbeanTales 2011 Content Incubator

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The much buzzed about CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival came to a close last Sunday night following seven event-filled days that celebrated the exploding film and television industry across the Caribbean region and it’s Diaspora. Filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the region and the world come together for a week of cultural celebration, that took place at the Island Inn, and George Washington House.The festival’s Gala Opening on March 16th at Frank Collymore Hall was held before a packed to capacity audience of 500 patrons.

And at the closing night screening of Raoul Peck’s “Moloch Tropical” , CaribbeanTales CEO Frances-Anne Solomon thanked all participants and sponsors for making this year’s theme “Vision Momentum Action! ” a huge success.

“Even though it was very hard work, in a lean year, the support we have had has been tremendous.” She continued: “The pay off is a satisfied and nourished audience base, stimulated by rich dialogue about our industry. This will carry our team forward for a long time to come.”The festival’s highlight was the unique CT Content Incubator , facilitated by US Marketing and Distribution consultant Michele Matterre, with a special animation incubator led by Camille Selvon Abrahams of Anime Caribe. Selected filmmakers participated in an intensive immersion in the creative, business and marketing aspects of the industry, with support from international industry experts, culminating in a pitch session.

Many special guests travelled from abroad to take part in the activities including: Hollywood Director Neema Barnette, Berlinale Talent Campus Director Mattijs Knol, World Cinema Fund Director Sonja Heinen, Africa Channel EVP of Corporate Affairs Mark Watson, Kethiwe Ngcobo, Head of Drama at the South African Broadcasting Corporation and award-winning Canadian composer John Welsman who delivered a master class  on sound and music for film.

Also present was a stellar contingent from the Caribbean region including EZONE’s Lisa Wickham and Sheldon Felix,  Antigua’s HAMA TV – Mitzi and Howard Allen,  Dominica’s Alwin Bully and Film Commissioner for Dominica Anita Bully, Guadeloupe Film Commissioner Tony Coco-Viloin and FEMI Director Frank Solvet.

Diaspora filmmakers also were present in numbers including Faisal Lutchmedia  from Montreal, and Dawn Wilkinson from Toronto,

Another high point took place on Saturday evening with the Awards Ceremony honoring Special Guest Hollywood Director Neema Barnette,

Ms Barnette who came from Los Angeles  to receive the Award, spoke movingly of the importance of CaribbeanTales. “For someone who has worked hard for everything I have ever got, it is wonderful to see what this festival provides for filmmakers” she said.

This was followed by the world premiere screening of Howard and Mitzi Allen’s eagerly anticipated fourth feature film THE SKIN, followed by a talk back session with the filmmakers.

Mitzi Allen said that it was important to herself and her husband, filmmaker director Howard Allen to present the film at CaribbeanTales, even though it was not quite finished. “I really liked the feedback we got from industry folks. It was honest and constructive. A pre-screening outside of Antigua was the best thing we ever did,” said Mitzi who is the Executive Producer for the film.

Most of the films screened to sold out audiences at the George Washington House cinema. These featured some local regional and international premieres  including Miquel Jalofre’s extraordinary exploration of Jamaican dancehall music Hit Me With Music, and the stunning series premiere of Dominion by Bajan dream team Sean Michael Field and Rodney Smith

CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival was sponsored by: Island Inn, The Starcom Network, Ultimax TV, Lisa Wickham’s Ezone, the Commonwealth Foundation, SFa Communications, Hall-e-wood Productions, Morenamedia, HAMA Productions, Barbados Government Information Service, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, The United Nations Development Program, Caribbean Media Corporation, US Embassy, Animae Caribe, Merville Lynch Prods, Creative Junction, Barbados National Bank, Steinhill Studios, Blue Light Media,The National Cultural Foundation and Autonomous Entertainment.

CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution the region’s first full-service film distribution company, is founded by award-winning filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, and principals are creative industries expert Dr Keith Nurse (Chair), economist and businessman Dr Terrence Farrell, media personality and producer Lisa Wickham, and filmmaker and writer Mary Wells.

CTWD is a member of the Barbados Business Enterprise Corporation that provides Seed and Venture Capital Services.

Director of the Cosby Show to lead Masterclass at CTales 2011

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Hollywood film director Neema Barnette, best known for her work as one of the original directors of the Cosby Show will be coming to Barbados to lead a Masterclass in Directing at the CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival.

This event, which is facilitated by the United States Embassy, will take place on March 20th at the Island Inn, followed by a screening of her film Zora Is My Name, at George Washington House.

During her visit to Barbados Ms Barnette, who is also a Professor at the renowned UCLA School of Film and Television and adjunct Professor at NYU, will attend a screening and talk back session of her film Run For The Dream: The Gail Devers Story for secondary school students, on March 14th; and participate as a Tutor at the CaribbeanTales Intensive  Content Incubator that runs throughout the week.

Ms Barnette is a multi-award winning film and television director and NAACP award recipient, with a directing portfolio that includes such projects as the Gilmore Girls, The Cosby Show, 7th Heaven and many films.

Director of the festival, Frances Anne Solomon expressed delight at the tremendous opportunity of having such an acclaimed filmmaker on board for this years’ program. “It is an absolute honour to have Neema Barnette join us for the festival, especially since our focus this year is on producing television series. She is an amazing film maker and person, and will lend so much experience and passion to the workshops. This is really a big treat for us.”

Solomon also disclosed the details of other workshops that will take place over the week-long event. These will include Introduction to Film Making, led by Barbados Film and Video Association president Rivelino Simmons, a two-day event targeted at complete novices to the audio visual medium, who are seeking to cross-over; a workshop focussing on Adapting Literature to the Screen, led by experienced South African Producer and former commissioning Editor  Kethiwe Ngcobo; The Anatomy of A Film Score that explores the unique role and use of Music for Film led by multi-award-winning Canadian composer John Welsman, and, “From Script to Screen”, a reading of 3 scripts developed by Penelope Hynam and Beatrice HallenBarter from their “Growing Up Caribbean” series of short films on childhood.

Neema Barnette is an extraordinarily accomplished filmmaker, writer and producer, who has made ten movies for television including Zora Is My Name (American Playhouse production starring Ruby Dee) which won a Lilly Award for Exceptional Representation of African American Images in Film; Different Worlds: An Interracial Love Story (four Daytime Emmy nominations, Directors Guild of America nomination for Best Directing); Better Off Dead (Lifetime Television production starring Mare Winningham and Tyra Ferrell) which earned a Cable Ace award nomination; Run For The Dream: The Gail Devers Story (Showtime Network production starring Lou Gossett Jr.) which earned Barnette her fifth NAACP Image Award nomination); Scattered Dreams (for CBS Television Network, starring Tyne Daly and Alicia Silverstone); Sin & Redemption (also for CBS; executive produced by Dick Berg). She also directed the Emmy award winning after school special To Be a Man.

Despite her illustrious career in Hollywood and mainstream US television, Ms Barnette still calls herself  “a director from Harlem”, and has also operated her own production company, Harlem Lite Productions since 1987 and is Executive Director of Live Theatre Gang, an urban theatre and performance company.

The Caribbean Tales Film Festival 2011 @ Island Inn, Barbados runs from March 14- 20, 2011. The festival will include an Incubator Program for Caribbean audio-visual content development starting on March 14, a Symposium, Marketplace and Workshops as well as Screenings of films from the Caribbean and its diaspora.

A Hand Full of Anticipation for CTales 2011

A Handful of Dirt, a film by Barbadian director Russell Watson will open CaribbeanTales 2011 on Barbados in March.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival will celebrate its Gala Opening March 16th at Frank Collymore Hall, with the highly anticipated Barbados Premiere of local Film maker Russell Watson’s critically acclaimed debut feature, A Hand Full Of Dirt.

The Gala is the main highlight of a week of cultural explosion, that will take place between 14-20th March as filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the region and the world come together to celebrate Caribbean film at CT2011.

Producer of the film, Lisa Harewood expressed her pride that the production will be featured at the Opening Night Gala. “We feel incredibly honoured to have been given the opportunity to open CaribbeanTales Film Festival 2011. The festival is becoming a very important link between filmmakers from the Caribbean and the wider Diaspora, so we’re looking forward to meeting and talking to our colleagues. More than anything though, we’re excited to screen the film for the cast, crew, friends, family and supporters who are based in Barbados.”

The movie has already attracted some major attention, copping a nomination for Best First Feature Narrative Director, at the hugely respected Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. This recognition being well deserved as Russell Watson and his team battled for several years against the tremendous obstacles that are commonly faced by Caribbean film makers in order to complete the film. With a minimalist budget, and a lot of determination the movie is an example that against all odds, with creativity and a will, there is a way.

Shot in various locations in Barbados and Chicago, the film tells the topical family story of 3 generations , and one plantation. The men of the Redman family – father, grandfather and son – try desperately to break with the past to pursue their dreams on their own terms. Soon though, it is made painfully clear that their lives are inextricably linked and that the past exerts an inescapable grip on the future. A Hand Full of Dirt features such local and regional luminaries as Dominica’s Alwin Bully and Barbados’ own Cynthia Wilson, Luther Bourne and Marcia Burrow.
The Opening Gala starts at 6:00 pm at the Frank Collymore Hall in Bridgetown Barbados and admission is $35 a ticket at the door. Early bird seats are available for $25.00, by emailing registration@caribbeantales-worldwide.com. Pre-registration is advised for this hugely popular event.

http://caribbeantales-events.com/ runs from March 14- 20, 2011. Not just a film festival the event will include screenings, talk back sessions, workshops, incubators, networking events, and a pitch marketplace, as well as a special Directing Masterclass by celebrated Hollywood Director Neema Barnette, known for her work on the Cosby Show. Audiences will also get to Preview the new film The Skin, the fourth feature film by Antigua’s prolific husband and wife filmmaking team, Howard and Mitzi Allen.

CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival is sponsored by: Island Inn, The Starcom Network, Ultimax TV, Lisa Wickham’s Ezone, the Commonwealth Foundation, SFa Communications, Hall-e-wood ProductionsMorenamedia, HAMA Productions, Barbados Government Information Service, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Caribbean Media Corporation, US Embassy, Animae Caribe, Merville Lynch Prods, Barbados National Bank, Steinhill Studios, Blue Light Media, and Autonomous Entertainment.

CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution the region’s first full-service film distribution company, is founded by award-winning filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, and principals are creative industries expert Dr Keith Nurse (Chair), economist and businessman Dr Terrence Farrell, media personality and producer Lisa Wickham, and filmmaker and writer Mary Wells. CTWD is a member of the Barbados Business Enterprise Corporation that provides Seed and Venture Capital Services.