CayFilm celebrates movies and more

| 04/07/2017
CNS Local Life

Some of the opening night crowd

(CNS Local Life): Though marred by a first-night power outage, the third annual Cayman International Film Festival still shone with more than 200 films, workshops on all aspects of movie making; a gala opening attended by international and local filmmakers, celebrities and actors; and an awards ceremony. This year’s CayFilm celebrated film, food and fashion over the four days of the festival. Among the awards presented the final night, Monday, 3 July, were two for lifetime achievement, for screenwriter James V Hart and co-founder and former chief scientist at Pixar Animation Studios, Loren Carpenter.

Among his notable work, Hart wrote Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, which the festival screened on opening night to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary. His other films include Hook, Epic and Contact.

Addressing the audience after receiving his award at the closing ceremony, Hart, an avid diver, said, “Cayman has been magic for me. We had a beautiful dive today with my Cayman buddies, my dive buddies.”

Thanking organisers for his “wonderful honour”, he said, “That’s why I’m here. Yeah, I write movies but I’m really here because of the magic that Cayman is.”

Carpenter is one of the creators of the PhotoRealistic RenderMan software, which changed the face of animation.

“As a kid, I read every science fiction and fantasy book I could find,” he recalled. “My imagination went way beyond the abilities of the special effects of the 50’s and 60’s. I wanted to see my imagination on the screen.”

He added, “I’m really proud of the fact that my work is actually being used today and just the other day the RenderMan programme passed its 35th anniversary.”

CNS Local Life

Loren Carpenter accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award

Other awards were presented in categories including best feature film, best animated film, best documentary and best first film. Local filmmakers were also honoured, with Trevor Murphy winning the Frank E. Flowers best local film nod for Hotel. Noting that was his first award, he quipped that since the bright lights prevented him from seeing the audience, “I can imagine you are all naked.”

Murphy, who only started making films in 2014, noted the quality of the competition, saying, “I’d also like to congratulate all the other nominees. I’ve watched all your films over the weekend and I’m scared for next year already.”

Festival director Tony Mark said that more than 20 local films were submitted, adding, “Native son Frankie Flowers has been an inspiration to local filmmakers.”

CayFilm again included the 48-hour film challenge, which about 130 festivals also hold. On a Friday night, each filmmaker is given a character, a line of dialogue, a prop and a genre, and then has to hand in a movie two days later. Five teams out of six completed the task.

Mark recounted how close the voting was among the six judges. Each of the five teams received a first-place vote, with the sixth judge casting the deciding ballot for The Last Act, directed by Cassandra Shea.

The winning entry for best environmental film, Straws, about the harmful effects of plastic straws and the move to replace those with paper versions, particularly resonated with viewers. In accepting the award, director Linda Booker noted how “gorgeous” Cayman was, adding, “It was meaningful for me to be part of a project that brings to light something that is so simple and so small that it actually ends up in the billions every day in landfills and oceans and affecting marine life. I thank you also for being open to having paper straws here at the galas.

“We are creating products that last for centuries…and that our animals are eating. I hope that you at least will engage and be willing to be a part of the conversation…and be a part of the solution as well.”

In addition to Carpenter and Hart, who have attended previous CayFilms, other repeat participants included producer Gary Lucchesi, last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, who is president of Lakeshore Entertainment. Among his credits are Million Dollar BabyThe Lincoln Lawyer and The Ugly Truth.

“This is a great film festival,” he said. “Most of the people here who have done work are doing really interesting, very independent work.” During the festival he introduced the film, Underworld Blood Wars, and attendees had a chance to take part in a one-on-one session with the producer.

“I saw a documentary that blew my socks off, Force Blue. It was really extraordinary and it was shot all in the Cayman Islands. It’s really a beautiful documentary. And that’s just one of the things I saw that was great. This is a really terrific festival. I really enjoyed it.”

Mark expects an even better festival next year. “We’re going to just keep going and making this better and better,” he said. “I really appreciate everyone that’s here and being part of this and seeing what this can bring to the island and bring to filmmaking.”

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Category: Arts, Film

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