The Caribbean is the site of an emerging film culture that has been generating interest around the world. A 2015 article in Variety cited Argentinian producer Gema Sanchez’s characterization of recent films from the region as having “a different rhythm, a different cadence. something very vibrant in terms of the human energies, textures and colors. Something warmer – even when faced by very harsh realities.” For Pitulka Ortega Heilbron, director of the Panamanian Film Festival, “when they add in the reality of their own country and culture, the films look like something we’ve never seen before.”
The emergence of this new cinema can be attributed to a number of factors: greatly increased access to digital technologies, the proliferation of film schools and programmes, the founding and growth of an increasing number of film festivals across the region, and the energy and collective organisation of new generations of filmmakers. However, in a region characterised by infinite diversity, the practical conditions for production, distribution, and reception are different in different cultural contexts, and aesthetic responses to the different, and often ‘harsh,’ local realities to which Sanchez referred also vary. This complex cinematic landscape calls for nuanced mapping, and has not yet been sufficiently addressed in critical or theoretical work.
Mapping New Caribbean Cinema: A Meeting of Filmmakers and Film Scholars at the Festival de Cine Global Dominicano will be held in Santo Domingo during the two days leading up to the FUNGLODE Film Festival in January of 2020. It will bring scholars together to engage in such a ‘mapping’ of the region, providing an account of these differences, but also proposing to overcome the frequent fragmentation (linguistic, disciplinary, practical) of both scholarly and industrial efforts. Participants will look for commonalities shared by films from the region and its diasporas as well as differences that set films, filmmakers, film traditions, and film industry landscapes apart from each other. The goal of these conversations is to establish connections, develop critical perspectives, and share strategies that will contribute to the continued development of Caribbean cinemas.
As the meeting will be held in the Dominican Republic, special emphasis will be placed on the vibrant cinema of this country, which has grown enormously in recent years. Since the implementation of a new film law in 2010, the Dominican Republic has seen its annual homegrown film production increase by five times or more, thanks to greater foreign and domestic investment in filmmaking and filmmakers. In more recent years, this ongoing commitment to the new industry has started to bear fruit in the form of international accolades, as well as a sustained string of local box office hits. The meeting will feature roundtable discussions with local filmmakers, critics, and other members of the Dominican film industry. Meeting in the Dominican Republic on the eve of the country’s most established film festival will offer participants a chance to learn more about this film culture at a pivotal time in its development, as well as the opportunity to attend the film festival where they will be able to see new films and meet filmmakers from across the region.