Tonya Lee Williams

Caribbean filmmakers invade Toronto Film Fest

Jamaican-Canadian Producer and Actor Tonya Lee Williams, with Barbadian Filmmaker and Director of the Bridgetown Film festival Mahmood Patel (left) and Rubadiri Victor, artist and filmmaker from Trinidad (right).

TORONTO, Canada – Caribbean filmmakers descended on Toronto in numbers for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held at various venues around Toronto from September 9th to 19th.

These filmmakers, some new to the craft and others experienced hands, were assembled by the energetic filmmaker and producer Frances-Anne Solomon and her colleagues from Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution Inc., a newly-formed distribution company whose mission is to bring Caribbean films to the world.

Some of the filmmakers present included Mary Wells of Jamaica, Tony Hall of Trinidad and Tobago, Sharon Lewis of Toronto, and Allison Saunders of Barbados. In all 25 filmmakers from across the region participated in a 3-day Incubator Workshop held at the University of Toronto to develop and hone their marketing and presentation skills.

The workshop was facilitated by Michelle Materre of New York and Tanya Mudaly of the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation. They went on to participate in several TIFF events including the ReelWorld Indie Networking Event hosted by Tonya Lee Williams.

“It was a great experience,” said Davina Lee, a filmmaker and music video director from St. Lucia. “The best and most useful thing was the networking opportunities with both regional and international filmmakers. I feel like I’m part of something bigger not a lone filmmaker trying to make it in the region. It has brought the regional filmmakers closer and we will definitely work together in the future.”

TIFF Co-director Cameron Bailey who is Barbadian-Canadian, speaking at the Launch of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, flanked by Trinidadian filmmaker and CTWD Founder/CEO Frances-Anne Solomon, and Dr Keith Nurse CTWD Board Chair.

Ms Solomon expressed her delight at the strong participation of Caribbean filmmakers at TIFF thanks to sponsorship from UNIDO, Caribbean Export, Canada Council for the Arts, Invest Barbados, Caribbean Airlines and the Commonwealth Foundation.

She said “It was exciting to organize this event and very gratifying to see Caribbean and Diaspora filmmakers network with each other, make valuable contacts in the world of film and sharpen their pitching skills. I feel that Caribbean film is about to take off and Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution will be the spearhead of the effort to bring Caribbean stories to global audiences.”

She went on to state “We will be hosting the Second Caribbean Tales Film Festival and Symposium in Barbados in February 2011 and we will be back in Toronto for TIFF in September 2011 with an even larger contingent of Caribbean talent.”

See more pictures from the film festival and the film incubator workshop for Caribbean filmmakers here…

Some of the participants of the CTWD Program: L-R Tony Hall, Michelle Materre, Rubadiri Victor, Mahmood Patel, Camilo Antonio, Che Rodriguez, Louis Taylor, Hilary Brown, Dr Keith Nurse, Frances-Anne Solomon, Kirk Bucahannan CPTC, Davina Lee, Ryan Singh, Alison Saunders, Cabral Trotman, Ava-Gail Gardiner, Escipion Olliveira, Rommel Hall, Sheldon Felix.

TV – Tonya Lee Williams joins the 3rd season of CBC’s The Border

tonyaleeTORONTO –  Tonya Lee Williams will play a senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent, in the Canadian drama about elite Canadian immigration and customs officers working with U.S. authorities to defend the Canadian-U.S. border against outside threats.
Williams best know for her starring role as Olivia Winters on The #1 daytime Soap The Young and The Restless joins the cast of The Border a Canadian drama airing on CBC Television and 20 other TV networks worldwide. The series is set in Toronto and follows agents of the fictitious Immigration and Customs Security (ICS) agency, created by the Government of Canada to deal with trans-border matters concerning Canadian national security including terrorism and smuggling. 
Williams will be recurring as Constance Meade, Director of Intelligence and Detection for the US Department of Homeland Security.  Meade is a highly-placed American government official who knows where the bodies are buried.  She operates in the murky backstage world of Beltway politics – secret meetings, political trade-offs, influence peddling, the constant maneuvering and jostling for power.  She’s a conduit to the corridors of power, able to get things done in the bureaucratic thickets of Washington, she’s tough, uncompromising, and authoritative, willing to make hard choices and see them through.  The issues in the show are drawn from issues that currently face Canada and the rest of the world such as 9/11, The Darfur Crisis, human rights violations in China and trans-national crimes such as pedophiles and international crime rings. The Border show’s the Canadian perspective in facing national security issues that would affect the country.
Ms. Williams plans to continue her role on The Young and The Restless while working on The Border. She is also Founder and Executive Director of ReelWorld Film Festival a Canadian Non-Profit Film Festival, dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in front and behind the camera, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in April 2010.
Two time Emmy Nominated Tonya Lee Williams is an established internationally actor.   She’s best known for her starring role as “Dr. Olivia Winters” on the popular daytime drama The Young and the Restless which has garnered her with two NAACP Image Awards. She has also been honoured with many other awards including; Howard University’s, The Legacy of Leadership Award; the prestigious Harry Jerome Award in 2004; the 2005 ACTRA Award of Excellence; the 2007 African Canadian Achievement Award; and the city of  Oshawa’s ‘Walk of Fame’ Award’.
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