It is finally here! CayFilm, the official film festival of the Cayman Islands, happens this weekend from Friday through Monday. This year’s festival is offering another jam-packed weekend of films, panels, workshops and soirees under the theme of “Film, Fashion and Food.”

CayFilm officially launched in June 2014 with a star-studded, red-carpet affair at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman that included Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard and Emmy award winning director Jon Chu. Since then, the festival has grown rapidly, solidifying its status as a not-to-miss film event in the Caribbean.

Celebrities, food and fashion

Noted TV and movie stars and industry experts who have attended the festival over the last two years include Zoe Saldana, Anthony Mackie, Gary Lucchesi, Brian Cox, Wes Studi, Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, Nicky Whelan, Reno Wilson, Loren Carpenter, Paul Schrader, James V. Hart, and “Star Wars” cast and crew members Robert Watts, Jeremy Bulloch, Ben Burtt, Lorne Peterson and Paul Weston.

This year, in keeping with the food theme, celebrated television host, and multi-award winning Chef Eric Ripert – co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City and Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – will be headlining the festival. Chef Ripert will participate in the opening and closing gala events, take part in a screening and Q & A celebrating his years as a television host and will host an exclusive chef’s dinner with CayFilm celebrity guests.

CayFilm will also be screening the José Andrés National Geographic Special “Undiscovered Haiti.” The film follows the world-renowned chef as he explores the island of Haiti, immersing himself in the culture and power of food in the country, and includes appearances from personalities such as former President Bill Clinton and Chef Mario Batali.

Local designers Isy Obi, Olivia B and Kenzie Rose will be bringing their unique styles and fashion flair to the red carpet too as part of CayFilm’s efforts to showcase one of the island’s rapidly developing industries.

The trio will host a Q&A session for aspiring fashion designers and people who are interested in the industry, and their pieces will be on display and modelled at the various festival events.

Eight hundred films were submitted for CayFilm, and more than 200 films from over 50 countries will be screened over the festival weekend. Films will be judged and awarded in the genres of Feature Films, Short Films, Narrative and Documentaries, Animated Films, Underwater Films, Screenplay and First Films.

Other workshops and panels will be conducted by experts such as renowned photographer Vincent Versace, producers Gary Lucchesi and Lee Chambers, actor Wes Studi and live action special effects guru Dieter Sturm.

The festival kicks off on Friday with a VIP-only welcome gala. Saturday and Sunday are full days of films and panels and the festival culminates on Monday with a VIP-only gala closing party and awards ceremony.

Highlighted events

It’s hard to narrow down any of the CayFilm events, as this festival is so well-organized and interesting that our advice would be to just set up shop for a few days at The Ritz-Carlton.

If you have limited time, however, these are a few of our recommendations:

Opening night gala – Friday

Who doesn’t love a good gala? Mingle with celebrities as CayFilm recognizes the 25th anniversary of “Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. You can follow the theme and break out the fangs or just dress up for the occasion. Get your picture taken with character actors and enjoy some cocktails.

  • VIP passholders only.

Unwritten’ and ‘Sacrifice’ – Saturday

Local filmmakers Pascal Pernix and Malcolm Ellis screen their short films for the public. “Unwritten” by Pascal Pernix is the story of a bestselling author discovering that his unknown daughter has begun a journey to meet him for the first time. “Sacrifice” by Malcolm Ellis is an altogether darker tale about an abused wife, her psychiatrist and a “powerful lunatic.”

  • All passholders admitted.

Dinner at Blue with Chef Eric Ripert – Sunday

This elegant four-course, wine-pairing experience will feature cuisine personally prepared by Chef Eric Ripert, who, along with CayFilm celebrities and Hollywood industry professionals, will provide the ultimate epicurean adventure.

  • Dinner is $325 per person. For reservations, call 815-6912.

Closing night gala – Monday

Awards are handed out to international and local filmmakers at a gala worthy of Hollywood’s glitterati. Everyone feels like a celebrity on the final night of CayFilm.

  • VIP passholders only.

Ticket Information

Student Pass – CI$25 or US$31.25

Complete access to all film screenings, panels and workshops on three event days. Opening and Closing Night Celebrity Galas are not included at this pass level. Buyer must present student ID at time of purchase. Films rated “Adult” will require adult guardian supervision for students under age 18.

General Pass – CI$50 or US$62.50

Complete access to all film screenings, panels and workshops on three event days. Opening and Closing Night Celebrity Galas are not included at this pass level.

VIP Pass – CI$400 or US$500

Complete access to all film screenings, panels and workshops on all four event days. This pass level also includes access to the Opening and Closing Night Celebrity Galas.

For more information and tickets, visit the website at

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  1. For clarity, you do NOT need a VIP Pass to view local films “Unwritten” and “Sacrifice” or any of the other local and international films screening this weekend. A regular day pass ($25) or weekend pass ($50) will get you into every film, including these two out of twenty local films. Only the opening and closing gala events require a VIP Pass, and the Dinner at Blue is a separate ticket event. Come out and support film-making in Cayman!