Lights, camera, action for CayFilm

Celebs fly in for film festival

Some of Cayman's political leaders got the chance to meet 'Haven' and 'Avatar' actress Zoe Saldana on Thursday in the buildup to CayFilm 2016. From left, Tony Mark, CayFilm festival director, Stran Bodden, chief officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Councilor Joey Hew, Cisley Saldana Nazario, sister of Zoe Saldana, Zoe Saldana, Councilor Roy McTaggart and Frank E. Flowers, Caymanian filmmaker.

Featuring 200 films from more than 50 countries, the Cayman International Film Festival gets under way Friday night with a special screening of the only feature film to be shot entirely on these shores.

A special director’s cut of “Haven,” written and directed by homegrown talent Frank E. Flowers, will be shown at the opening gala of CayFilm at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Friday night.

The red carpet event will also feature a question and answer session with Flowers and some of the stars of the movie, including Zoe Saldana, who went on to achieve A-list status with roles in “Avatar” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Over the course of the three-day event, there will be appearances from celebrities, including action movie star Wesley Snipes and actor Anthony Mackie, who also appeared in “Haven.” Other highlights include workshops with some of the behind-the-scenes experts who made the original “Star Wars” trilogy, culminating in a panel discussion featuring legendary producer Robert Watts.

Organizers confirmed Thursday that the festival will also feature the premiere of summer blockbuster “Lights Out,” as well as an appearance by Alexander DiPersia, the star of the horror movie.

CayFilm director Tony Mark says the festival, now in its second year, is bigger and better and is already attracting international attention.

He said, “We have double the number of filmmakers coming in from around the world. We have 30 local films. We have sold twice as many tickets. We are getting amazing publicity in the international press. We are very excited about the caliber of people that are coming.”

As a “Star Wars” fan, he is most excited about the workshops with the producers and sound-editors that helped make the iconic trilogy.

“We have some of the top people who made the ‘Star Wars’ films. They are going to be very accessible and people are going to be able to talk to them one on one,” he said.

He also expects the “Haven” reunion and “The Black Line,” a documentary featuring Cayman’s Olympic swimmers, brothers Brett and Shaune Fraser, to attract significant interest.

More than 75 filmmakers will be in attendance for the screening of their films.

For Mr. Mark, the preparation has been intense. In the lead-up to the festival, a panel of 20 judges reviewed more than 650 films, eventually whittling them down to just under 200, by movie makers across the globe, from Moldova to Vietnam.

“It’s been fun. A lot of planning has gone into this. I am just reaching the stage where I can take a breath and get ready to enjoy it,” he said.

“I am very excited. I made it the sort of film festival I would want to go to.”