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Caribbean Takes 'center stage' at Student Film Festival

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

04-23-2018 17:44 BJT

By Vicki Cann, PhD Candidate at Communication University of China

The Caribbean takes 'center stage' at the 2018 Beijing College Student Film Festival. The three-day event is free and open to the public on April 24-26 – with eight films on screen.

"The Beijing Caribbean Film Festival gives Chinese viewers an opportunity to see the Caribbean on screen. We hope to redefine the Caribbean in the eyes of Chinese viewers. The Caribbean is the perfect location both to make blockbuster films and to create and produce engaging local films from within its own vibrant industry." said Ms. Ayesha Wharton, Charge d’ Affairs a.i. from the Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

The films highlight the true Caribbean reality. The films allude to poignant matters that remain key concerns in our post-colonial societies; issues involving, immigration, race, identity and the constant struggle for a better life.

"Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China", produced by, former NBC Universal Executive, Paula Williams, will be shown at the opening ceremony. The film documents Williams' childhood and that of her brothers, all of whom were born in Jamaica but migrated to Harlem, USA with their Chinese-Jamaican mother, Nell Vera Lowe that features Williams' plight to reunite with her mother's remaining family in China. It was produced by Jeanette Kong.

The second day opens with two Bahamian films, the first directed by Kareem Mortimer, "Passage". This hair-raising picture documents the smuggling of Haitian immigrants through the Bahamas to the United States. K. Tyler Johnstone, executive producer, captures the life of a Haitian gardener in "My Father's Land," depicting a familiar Caribbean narrative that touches on immigration, culture and identity, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of moving from one's homeland to improve the quality of life for all involved.

Adding to Wednesday’s line up is Trinidad and Tobago's "Salty Dog," directed by Oliver Milne. Unlike the United States, the notion of placing elderly parents in retirement homes remains unpopular in the Caribbean. Yet, this reality presents itself in an estranged relationship between a father and son.

Finishing off the evening, is the showing of "The Fortitude," another film from Trinidad and Tobago that details hardships faced by early Chinese settlers on the islands, including the need to have a special pass when travelling to the capital Port of Spain. Directed by Judy Chong Dennison and Anthony Dennison, the film includes interviews from renowned Chinese-Trinbagonians and others of Chinese descent including: Larry Howai, Finance Minister and Derek Chin, Founder of Movie Towne.

On April 26, there's the screening of a Barbadian film, "Auntie". Written and directed by Lisa Harewood, which showcases a seamstress and matriarch of a local Bajan community. Having cared for many children and others in need, her latest charge is 12-year-old Kera, whose mother migrated to England in search of more lucrative opportunities. Having grown attached to the child, "Auntie" worries about Kera reuniting with her biological mother.

The second Bajan documentary/film to be shown is an educational work of art, "H2O", which creates more awareness on water management, preservation and the environmental impact that should be taken to maintain the natural beauty of our Caribbean waters.

The evening ends with the Jamaican film, "Bad Friday", a documentary by Dr. Deborah Thomas, that sheds light on the hardships of Rastafarians in the 1970s, which includes unearthing shocking events of a particular Rastafarian community in Western Jamaica’s Coral Gardens.

The Caribbean Embassies in Beijing have joined together to harness synergies between the vibrant and thriving film industry in China and the burgeoning Caribbean film industry while deepening connections between the two in the process. Hopefully, Caribbean films can support the objectives of various Embassies in regards to tourism promotions, support for local cultural and creative industries and other public diplomacy initiatives.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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