CAYFILM International Film Festival marked not only the exponential growth of the annual event but also a growing partnership with Cayman Media Park, which is part of the Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) Special Economic Zone.
"We are very excited to be working closely with the Festival as there are great synergies between our organizations. We are both working tirelessly to develop the Cayman Islands into a globally significant film hub and the ideal location for film production companies to set up a physical presence," said CEC CEO Charlie Kirkconnell. "The future of the festival and the organization, we believe, is boundless!"
Started only a couple of years ago, the CAYFILM Festival is now a "must-attend" on the list of hundreds of international film stars, production firms, and other film industry mavens.
This year's festival included the presentation of more than 200 films, dozens of panels and workshops on the ins and outs of filmmaking (from the initial concept all the way to post-production and distribution), and the attendance of numerous industry luminaries, with many promising to come back year after year.
"Having stars like Zoe Saldana and dozens of writers and directors was amazing," said CAYFILM Festival Director Tony Mark. "But we also focused 'beyond the glitz,' and brought so many people who do the challenging work in the trenches to move from the creative spark to the screen. We were particularly excited about having the OSCAR-winning special effects team from the original Star Wars trilogy who hosted workshops and panels. This year's CAYFILM was a veritable film school of knowledge!"
It is that concept that has brought CAYFILM and CEC together. The visionaries behind CAYFILM have also launched Cayman Media Academy (CMA), which is an advocate for and educator of Cayman's young filmmakers, helping make accessible previously elusive career opportunities for many of Cayman's youth.
The CMA will offer courses in different film related studies and the Cayman Islands are well-positioned as a prime location for filmmaking and CMA will help make this a reality. CMA has the ability to develop a talented local workforce that can eventually fill the jobs that are starting to be created with Cayman Media Park.
Government officials are equally excited about the future possibilities of the festival and local film production.
"The government and Department of Tourism have been happy to work in alignment with the private sector to promote the Cayman Islands as a vibrant film hub to the motion picture industry around the world," said Tourism Ministry Councillor Hew, MLA. "As a diverse destination, with many 'beyond the beach' film possibilities, our trio of islands offers filmmakers a unique and attractive proposition for film production. Since its inception the growth and allure of Cayfilm has been impressive and gratifying, and we look forward to strengthening this foundation to further expand its potential in the coming years."
'Cayman Islands are a natural fit - with a great natural setting - for this project," Mark said. "And if the success of this year's event is any indicator, we are well on our way to reaching our goal of making the festival 'Cannes in the Caribbean!'"
The master plan for the Cayman Media Park campus has been designed to include pre-and post-production facilities, animation studios, and the team is working towards providing a permanent home for Cayman Media Academy on the campus, with facilities including a soundstage, equipment availability, and extension connections with high-profile international film schools.
"CAYFILM is thrilled to be working with Cayman Enterprise City to help attract overseas filmmakers and productions into the Cayman Media Park. CAYFILM also hopes to develop the Cayman Media Academy in conjunction with the Cayman Media Park and its fabulous resources," said Mark. "We've already spoken to dozens of industry players about Cayman Islands, including a group that already has a multi-picture deal with Netflix!"
The long-term thinking is that the festival will be the central attractor to the international film community that will foster the growth of the local industry.
"CAYFILM will be maximizing all of the international connections they have built and the CEC can add to create a unique facility," Kirkconnell said. "We hope they become a truly international media and film center and will work with them to do everything possible to make that happen!"