In a world where film festivals are becoming high profile events in cities from Toronto to Venice, the Cayman Islands is suddenly a big player in the Caribbean. The CayFilm Festival burst onto the scene on June 2015, featuring the glitterati, the paparazzi and a full schedule of international and local films.
More than 200 films were accepted by CayFilm from an impressive group of 600 entries, submitted by more than 50 countries. Many of the finalists flew to the Cayman Islands with an entourage of friends and fans to see how their films would fare against their competitors’. On the final night of the festival, awards were handed out for the best Feature Films, Short Films, Narrative, Documentaries, Animated Films, Underwater Films, Screenplays and First Films.
Beyond the film screenings, there were panel discussions and workshops on the schedule, so aspiring filmmakers could have a chance to learn from experts in the film industry. The wide range of subjects covered everything from how to get your first film started, to soundtracks and special effects.
The festival opened on Thursday, June 18, with a screening of the film “Serena,” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, followed by the Gala Opening Cocktail Party in Gardenia Court, Camana Bay. Festival VIPs enjoyed cocktails sponsored by Grey Goose as they mingled with visiting celebrities.
Over the next two days, screenings and informative presentations continued apace, all leading up to the Gala Closing Party and Awards Ceremony, held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Attendees socialized and enjoyed drinks in the ballroom foyer and out on the verandah, before heading into the ballroom for the main event. Emmy Award-winning actor and Golden Globe nominee, Brian Cox, presented the first award of the evening. He joined actress Alexa Vega, screenwriter James V. Hart, producer (and current dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television) Teri Schwartz, Oscar Award-winner Loren Carpenter, and two-time Golden Globe nominee and screenwriter/director, Paul Schrader, in welcoming CayFilm to the international film festival fold.
Tony Mark, director of the CayFilm Festival, had years of experience in the world of television and film before moving to the Cayman Islands. A former Emmy Award-winning video editor, seasoned writer and director for major feature films and hit television shows, Mark had the contacts, background and knowledge necessary to create a successful film festival here in Grand Cayman.
Beyond the positive exposure that CayFilm gives the Cayman Islands in the international film and tourism market, it offers a rare and unique opportunity for young Caymanian filmmakers to interact with industry legends and showcase their productions.
There is no doubt that the CayFilm Festival will be a firm favorite on the annual event schedule for years to come.