Film fest pitches sought

Cayman seeks to join the ranks of Sundance, Cannes and Tribeca

The Cayman Islands Film Commission has launched an official request for proposals to launch a film festival in Cayman after three movie industry people pitched separate, competing plans for a festival. 

The film commission on Monday, 25 July, released a “terms of reference” document inviting interested parties to submit plans to host a film festival here. 

“We received [three] comprehensive proposals … but they were not holistic. Each was missing at least one component, which we’ve now put forward in our terms of reference,” said Jonathan Piercy, director of the Department of Commerce and Investment, under whose remit the film commission falls. 

He said the three proposers could send revised proposals upon viewing the terms of reference and that the film commission was also inviting others in the film industry to pitch their proposals for the festival. 

The request for proposals surprised Tony Mark, an Emmy-award winning editor, one of the three who had already pitched a film festival plan to the film commission. He said he thought he already had the support of the film commission and had set up a website announcing that the first film festival, called CayFilm, would be held over four days in Spring 2012. 

Mr. Mark, who works as a videographer and photographer at Cathy Church’s, said he was inviting several A-list Hollywood celebrities to attend the festival, which he anticipated would become an annual event. 

“I was moving forward with it. I thought I had the film commission’s support,” said Mr. Mark, who won an Emmy Award as editor for his participation on the animated TV series “Tutenstein” for Porch Light Entertainment and Discovery Kids.  

He said that since he was in touch with the film commission about his plans for the festival, others had come forward and pitched their plans. 

Although the final decision on who will run the festival will be made by the board of the Cayman Islands Film Commission, input will also be taken from the Department of Tourism and Camana Bay. As the only cinema in Cayman, Camana Bay would be the most appropriate place to hold the festival, said Melanie McField, marketing and events officer at the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment.  

According to the terms of reference document, “the potential in this event concept will allow the Cayman Islands to engage an affluent market of directors, producers, actors and the like.” 

It pointed out that established film festivals like those held annually in Cannes, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, New Zealand and the famous Sundance Film Festival in Utah, USA, drew large crowds and benefitted those places economically. 

Mr. Piercy said the festival would not involve any monetary input from the Cayman Islands Government, although some import duty and work permit concessions would be offered. 

“These individuals who I suspect will respond to the terms of reference will be in a position to seek their own finances and get sponsorship locally or internationally,” he said. 

Makers of movies, advertisements, TV shows or documentaries shot in Cayman already receive duty waivers and work permit concessions through the film commission. 

Proposers are being asked to provide an overview of the proposal; details of a committee responsible for managing and organising the festival; a schedule of proposed events with dates and times; a marketing, operations, and development plan; a list of sponsors; a budget of expenses; and a festival guide which would include movie descriptions, director and writer profiles, proposed guests, guest speakers, and volunteers. 

The deadline for submissions is 2 September.  

Mr. Piercy said the film commission decided to seek other proposals because “it would only add to the success of the event” if more people from within the film industry were given an opportunity to pitch their plans for a festival. 

“Another reason for the terms of reference was we wanted to make sure we were comparing apples with apples and oranges with oranges. The terms of reference set out the criteria and objectives of a film festival. We wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page,” he said. 

Mr. Piercy said the film commission board would consider the submissions and come to a decision on who would be chosen to host the film festival by the end of October or early November. The festival would be held around March or April next year, he said. 

The Cayman Islands Film Commission was set up in January 2009 and launched at a glitzy red carpet event in Camana Bay. 

Film producer Jason Felts, who along with his business partner Justin Berfield, was instrumental in establishing the Film Commission said they both fully supported the concept of a film festival in Cayman. 

The pair, who work for Los Angeles-based Virgin Produced, a production company owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, said of the film festival that they would be “absolutely be involved, and likely tie in Virgin Produced”.  

“When we set out to establish the film industry in Cayman in 2009, Justin and I were very clear on the road map needing to take in order to build a solid foundation for Cayman within the industry. That said; the organic next steps to get Cayman on the radar of film makers, talent and studios is a larger film infrastructure and I believe that could naturally evolve with the integration of an annual film festival.  

“We need the industry to take notice of the talent that Cayman offers,” Mr. Felts said. 

He added, “Determining the exact theme, and size/scope of this festival is something we are working closely with the CIFC, of which I am active on the advisory board of, and local stake holders.” 


A film festival would bring more movie-related red carpet events to Cayman like this one to launch the Cayman Islands Film Commission in January 2009 which was attended by Hollywood players John O’Hurley, left, Jennifer Coolidge and Justin Berfield.


  1. I have been waiting for something like that. Currently with such a great theater at Camana Bay there is absolutely nothing to watch.

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