Applause, applause! CayFilm has impressive premiere

Inaugural events are often fraught with organizational “teething pains,” but last week’s inaugural CayFilm Cayman International Film Festival came off like a well-produced, brilliantly directed and slickly edited Oscar winner. The film festival offered a little bit of a lot of things: entertainment, education and Hollywood glitz, complete with a red carpet.

The screen offerings were high-quality, thought-provoking and diverse; the visiting film industry celebrities were accomplished and talented, and, more importantly, engaging while they were here.

A true testament to the success of the event was the desire expressed by the visiting celebrities to return for next year’s festival.

What made CayFilm 2015 even more impressive was that it was conceptualized, organized and executed as a private sector initiative, with Festival Director Tony Mark leading a very capable team that included Kelly Holding Ltd.

The government’s role was merely as a facilitator, but that doesn’t mean that the government and the people of the Cayman Islands can’t all benefit from this private sector initiative in terms of the tourism it brings, the positive international messaging it generates, the educational and career opportunities it offers, and its ability to introduce moviemakers to the Cayman Islands as a potential filming location.

Ministry of Tourism Councilor Joey Hew said he thinks the CayFilm festival could become as big if not bigger than the Cayman Cookout in the future, and we agree with him.

Attendance was probably lower than desired, but hopefully with a successful inaugural event now realized, positive reviews will help attract more overseas and more local attendees next year.

One potential threat to the future success of CayFilm could come from the government in the form of the Film Exhibition Control Board Law passed last week. That law imposes the requirement to submit non-rated films to a board to receive a rating before exhibition here. Although the law has been enacted with the intention of protecting children from harmful content, there is always a chance for a particular board to see objectionable content in the avant-garde submissions that are common at film festivals.

We are glad to see that government included a provision in the law that could offer an exemption to the rating requirement for film festivals – which tend to display large numbers of unrated films – and we hope that the government gives CayFilm that exemption so that it doesn’t hinder the film festival’s great potential.