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Nov 15, 2016

Belize Steps Up in International Film Festival

Yochi, Manna and Soca Mode are some of the productions that made it to the top in this year’s Belize International Film Festival. These local productions competed against thirty others in seven categories including best documentary, best film and best Belizean music video. The panel of judges was swayed by the high standards of the productions. News Five’s Duane Moody finds out why.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The 2016 Belize International Film Festival closed on Sunday at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts after a four-day stint dedicated solely to the audiovisual industry. In its eleventh edition, the festival returned home to the commercial capital of Belize City, which is where majority of the local production companies and individuals within the industry develop their craft.  It started with a red carpet and ended with a concert following the awards ceremony on Sunday night.

This year, a panel of four international judges reviewed a total of thirty-four selections from more than twenty countries, and seventeen music videos in the Belizean-only music video category. Several pieces either shot or directed by Belizeans topped this year’s festival. Winning the short film category was “Yochi,” which featured an all-Belizean cast, but focused on protecting the environment.

 

Holly Edgell

Holly Edgell, Communications/Marketing Officer, NICH

“We gave out seven awards; one for each main category in the festival and then two special awards as well. So featured film, the Best Featured Narrative was won by Sabina Kay which is a film out of Bosnia. It is a U.S.A./Bosnia production. We were excited that the Best Short Narrative Feature was our very own Yochi which was filmed in Belize and had an all Belize cast. People who came to opening night were able to meet Kerry Landero, who is a little star. For the Best Feature length documentary was a film from Brazil called Hexa, Grandson of the Rulers of Brazil and it was focused on a young boy who lived in the flavelas in Rio. Then the best short documentary and that was wings of Hope by Foster and then we had the Belize music videos category and that was really exciting because we were able to just recognize somebody who did a really amazing job of directing a video. And Melonie Gillett who is not known primarily as a director, she did direct Soca Mode and she won the trophy for that. We had a special award for environmental stories and that was won by Voices of Latin America which was an Argentinian production; he was here for the festival so it was really exciting for him to win that. And then we had a special award for the best Belizean film and that was manna by Mister Hyde, Mister D.E. Hyde.”

 

The film festival provided a platform for local artists, actors, producers and directors to dialogue with international experts in the industry about best practices and techniques to better the final production—whether it be a documentary, a narrative or a music video.

 

Suzette Zayden

Suzette Zayden, Festival Director

“Our goal had been to expose our Belizean people to as many films from as many countries possible. Our goal was to stimulate an industry and we realized we would have to put in all these question and answer sessions. We had all these foreign filmmakers that were here and nobody was getting a chance to talk to them and so we decided that we had to make the question and answer sessions after the films a must so that their experiences can be shared with different audiences. We always had a panel discussion. So we did a one-day panel discussion, one day dedicated to panels including the visiting filmmakers as well as the jury and a few other key persons that we wanted. We looked at topics that would assist the industry and also talk about the films in the festival.”

 

According to Communications and Marketing Officer at NICH, Holly Edgell, the festival allows for directors to market themselves and acquire more funding to create films.

 

Holly Edgell

“We are really in our infancy in this industry and to see the level of quality and the level of creativity; that a lot of these filmmakers don’t enter this field to make money in a big blockbuster type of way; they mainly do it from the heart. So these film festivals are really important for that kind of thing and the fact that we have one that attracts international entries and the fact that we can also hold our own against those international entries. We had four jurors and they were all from abroad and so that gives us some perspective as well. if we can hold our own when the judging is not by anybody we know in Belize; it is really objective judging from outside of the region even that says a lot, I think.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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