By Laura-Leah McNeil
The 14th annual CaribbeanTales Film Festival (CTFF) media launch was colourful, and the vibe at The Royal Cinema was exciting. Everyone was eagerly anticipating the special preview of Yardie, which actually released last year, but did not make it to the film festival previously due to unforeseen circumstances.
Nicholas Davis - Manager of Program Development for CBC Canada, spoke briefly about his work at and his contribution to CTFF’s Incubator program. Next up was a pre-recorded message from the founder and CEO of CTFF, Frances Anne-Solomon, who could not attend the launch as she was excited to be debuting her latest film Hero in the United Kingdom.
Everyone in the room was equally excited to see how Idris Elba, a non-Jamaican, intended to adapt this Jamaican tale. Right off the bat the territory felt familiar. We got the usual pan of Jamaica’s beautiful countryside, accompanied by funny one-liners as the characters were being introduced. The movie goes on to remind us of the unrest that resulted from all of the gang violence happening in Jamaica during the 1970’s. In the room around me, I could feel a lot of sighs and eye rolls at the thought of another Caribbean ‘gunman’ movie.
Of course, we move on to the usual message of peace, love, and unity with the peace seeker meeting his untimely demise. Most of us, including the folks who didn’t read the book from which this film was adapted, or saw the trailer, felt this coming on. Quickly, we arrived at the films pivotal moment, which occurred during the scene(s) covering the traditional nine nights. A celebration of life for the departed to wish them same safe passage to the other side. In one scene our main character ‘D for Dennis’, played by Aml Ameen, acts out his anger and frustration about his brothers passing. This scene was also the movies undertone, and we’re reminded of this at different points throughout the film.
© IMDB | 'Yardie' (2018) Official Trailer
This undertone, as I call it, is simply about letting go, and the importance of doing so. Overall this film had a great plot, and message. For a directorial debut it wasn’t bad, however I’m sure you’ll figure that out for yourself.
The screening, followed by a Q&A panel was hosted by CBC’s Dwight Drummond. On the panel was Nicole Brooks – Manager, The Incubator program; Peter Williams, a Jamaican actor who appears in Hero, and A Winter Tale; and lastly Nicholas Davis.
Mr. Drummond wasted no time getting to the question about the typical story about a gunman becoming repetitive in Caribbean films. I had the opportunity to speak directly with Peter Williams about this, suggesting that maybe the time for change is now. His simple reply was: “Some things just have to play out.” At first I was a little puzzled, however he went on to say that the Caribbean community “is healing”, and “in order to heal we must face our truths.”
This year, The CaribbeanTales Film Festival takes place from September 4th – September 20th. Under the theme: ‘A New Day’, the festival’s focus will be on the French Caribbean Islands, with some contributions from Africa.
Watch this space for more exclusive updates from the festival!
Editor’s Note: VIBE105 is the official media partner of the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival ’19.