Guyana. A small country nestled between the Atlantic Ocean, Venezula, Suriname and Brazil. Geographically South American but culturally Caribbean, this nation of just under 1 million people is famous (and infamous) for many things. From the beautiful Kaieteur Falls and lush rainforests which play host to eco-tourists from around the world, the terrible Jonestown tragedy that still haunts the country’s history to the most recent oil find just off of the coast, bringing international interest in this potential new source of energy and revenue.
But now Guyana is poised to make an impact in an area previously dominated by Americans and Europeans, the film industry.
Over the last 10 years, the Caribbean film industry has been growing by leaps and bounds. From the popularity of movies like Bazodee, Trafficked and God Loves the Fighter to the growing circle of regional and diasporic talent like Canada’s Ian Harnarine (Doubles with Slight Pepper) Jamaica’s Storm Saulter (Better Mus’ Come) and Barbados’s own Lisa Harewood (Auntie). Films by, for and about us have been steadily increasing in quantity, quality and availability.
In the same vein, so to grows the Guyanese film community. With increased access to technology and knowledge, the country is witnessing the rise of native and ex-pat filmmakers like Kojo McPherson (Standing) winner of the 2015 Caribbean Film Project, NYU Film school grad Gavin Ramoutar (Antiman) and Mason Richards, whose short The Seawall was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
In an effort to encourage, support and showcase the work of the country’s emerging artists the Timehri Film Festival (TFF) was created. TFF is an annual Guyanese and Caribbean film festival held in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown each May. Kicking off its 2nd year, the festival will be held on May 31-June 4th at the Moray House Trust. Admission is free and open to the public.
TFF was conceived by the co-founders of the Caribbean Film Academy (CAFA), Romola Lucas and Justen Blaize, with two goals in mind. The first to encourage, support and celebrate the work of Guyanese filmmakers, as well as shine a light on films that speak to the country’s history, landscape and culture.
To that end we are also putting out a call for submissions. TFF is looking for narrative and documentary features and short films (including music videos and animations) made in Guyana and/or by Guyanese filmmakers. Submissions can be made via Film Freeway by clicking here. Deadlines to submit films are as follows:
January 17, 2017: Submissions open
February 28, 2017 Early deadline
April 15, 2017 Official entry deadline
May 2, 2017: Notification date
Complete information regarding eligibility, and rules and regulations for the 2017 Timehri Film Festival are available here. Questions regarding submissions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
TFF’s secondary mission is to expose Guyanese audiences to the wide array of Caribbean films. As with many countries, American culture is heavily consumed in Guyana. TFF seeks to balance that consumption by showcasing the work of native and diasporic Caribbean filmmakers. Everyone loves a Hollywood blockbuster but how much more moving and powerful is it to see your people, your culture and your experiences on the big screen? Representation matters. And as the daughter of Guyanese immigrants and a lover of Caribbean film and culture, I am proud to have RACA partner with CAFA to help bring TFF to life.
This year we are expanding the festival’s offerings. In addition to presenting a full slate of feature length and short films, we are teaming up with Carver Bacchus of Sustain T&T’s Green Screen Festival to present a program of environmental films that highlight issues relevant to Guyana and the Caribbean. A panel discussion will follow the screening.
And in an effort to bring these films to audiences that many not otherwise have access, TFF also hold several off-site private screenings for local school children, incarcerated men and women and a select Amerindian village.
So, if you are in town, please join us! All are welcome. Come out and enjoy five days of film, fun and community as we honor our regions talent and culture.
To stay abreast of all things TFF, be sure to visit our website, subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter (our handle for each is @TimehriFF). And be sure to use and follow the hashtag #TimehriFF17.