Sunscreen and movie screens

Barbados' Caribbean International Film Festival

Monica Cooper, filmmaker, casting director and producer. Photograph courtesy Monica Cooper

For Monica Cooper, the idea of staging a film festival in the Caribbean was the perfect excuse to combine play with work.

A filmmaker, casting director and producer who has worked with actors such as Mario Van Peebles and Martin Lawrence, and on The Steve Harvey Show, among others, Cooper thought a tropical film festival would be a great addition to the film-festival roster.

“I’ve been to film festivals like Sundance in Utah and Tribeca in New York, to name a few, and, loving the Caribbean, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to have friends over for a suntan and movies. I could come to the islands on a so-called work trip,” she said, laughing.

The inaugural Caribbean International Film Festival (CIFF) will be staged from November 7 to 11 in Barbados, under the auspices of One World Film Society, the non-profit arm of Cooper’s production company, Make It Happen Entertainment Inc. Cooper, who has Bahamian roots, said Barbados was chosen because it was one of the locations that has the infrastructure to keep busy people from Los Angeles connected to the rest of the world at all times.

The festival will remain in Barbados unless another country in the region wants to host it.

The official launch of CIFF took place at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Cooper said the aim is to establish CIFF as one of the main festivals on the circuit. To that end, CIFF will premiere top Hollywood movies that haven’t been premiered elsewhere, and at the time of the interview, Cooper was in talks with stars, producers and filmmakers of those movies to appear at the premieres.

A number of films that topped other festivals have also been invited to show at CIFF, but unlike Cannes and Sundance, where a council chooses which films to award, the competition at CIFF will be audience-based, and an audience-choice award will be given to the best film screened.

Since the event will be held in the Caribbean, regional filmmakers will also share the spotlight.

On day three of the event there will be a red-carpet screening of the late Perry Henzell’s classic from Jamaica, The Harder They Come. There will also be an opportunity for local filmmakers to learn more about the industry through workshops and panel discussions on issues such as film financing and protecting music rights.

Cooper expects to attract participants from all over the world to the festival, which also includes a celebrity golf tournament to raise funds for breast cancer research.

For more information on the Caribbean International Film Festival visit: www.caribbeaninternationalfilmfestival.com