The show goes on for CayFilm

Friday night’s thunder, lightning and pouring rain were enough to drive a wedding indoors at The Ritz-Carlton and dampen some of the guests arriving for the mini-CayFilm festival that featured seven island-made short films.

Tony Mark laughed about the weather with one of the festival attendees.

“That’s my special effects team,” Mr. Mark said.

Had that been the case, it would have been one of two Hollywood-type magic tricks he pulled off for the evening, the second being the festival itself.

It was not supposed to happen.

Mr. Mark has headed up the annual CayFilm festival since its inception in 2015. But 2018 threw up some hurdles he did not think he could handle.

“We had some scheduling conflicts,” Mr. Mark said. “We had a lot of things hit at once. We said, ‘We’re not going to be able to put on the show we normally do this year.’ It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.”

Then an old friend stepped up.

Paul Taliaferro, CEO of Psi-Key Entertainment Corporation, has known Mr. Mark since high school. He threw the festival a lifeline – at least for this year.

“Psi-Key Entertainment came to us and said they wanted to work with us,” Mr. Mark said.

“They were able to put this on for us.”

Addressing the audience Friday night, Mr. Taliaferro said he felt it was critical the keep the festival going.

“We said, ‘We have to make this happen this year,’” he said.

Local filmmakers were relieved.

“It was hugely disappointing,” said Malcolm Ellis, who produced two of the films screened Friday night. “Suddenly there was no CayFlim.”

Filmmakers, he said, felt like the wind had been taken out of their sails. When the announcement came that the festival was back on, albeit on a smaller scale, panic set in, he said.

“It was like, ‘Wow, we’ve got to get this done,’” he said. “We were working up until this last weekend.”

Filmmaker Pascal Pernix said he was happy to be able to screen two of his films at the festival and pleased that it was sustained in some fashion.

“I’m very excited,” he said, adding that that feeling was shared among his colleagues. “I know they are delighted. Usually, when a festival is closed for one year, it doesn’t come back.”

He said he was “very impressed” that Mr. Mark and his team were able to pull off the event in a short time frame.

Mr. Mark said he had mixed emotions about putting on the smaller festival.

“It’s very bittersweet,” he said.

“I’m so happy because I don’t want to lose momentum. The local filmmakers are getting better every year.”

Many of those attending the festival said they were impressed by the quality of the films. The comedy “After Work,” by Mr. Ellis and writer/director Susan Howe, as well as Mr. Pernix’s caper film “Canvas,” generated some buzz among the crowd afterward.

But the film that seemed to draw the most comments was a documentary, “Reberth,” directed and produced and directed by Peter Chamalian, about plans to build a new cruise ship dock in George Town harbor.

“I thought the quality was as good as any documentary you’ve seen on television,” said David O’Driscoll, who was standing with Bec Swanson.

Ms. Swanson said she too was impressed by the documentary, as well as the other films.

“To have something of this quality for the size of the population is quite remarkable,” she said.

Maintaining the festival is important for the Cayman arts scene, she added.

“Without the creative outlet, you’d end up with a brain drain,” she said. “People will go somewhere else and you’re going to lose it.”

Tina Leswal was one of several who thought the festival was an important way to reflect the nature of Cayman.

“It showcases the culture and talent [here],” Ms. Leswal said. “I think that it’s key to the community.”

Mr. Mark said he plans to bring the festival to Cayman again next year, once more as a multi-day event.

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