TV exec Walton says Caribbean has huge potential to tell its own story

POSTED: 06/6/11 12:59 PM

GREAT BAY / NEW YORK – Veteran Caribbean-American television executive Mark Walton of The Africa Channel will keynote the luncheon session of the first CaribbeanTales New York Film Showcase.

The Film Showcase is set for the Spike Lee Screening Room at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus in New York at the weekend.

The inaugural one-day event, which brings the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Caribbean Week in New York to a close on Saturday, June 11, will feature a stirring keynote address by Walton on “Why A Strong African Diaspora Makes Sense.”

“The UN has designated 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent and this should be a time for all people who claim Africa as their ancestral homeland to take time to understand and appreciate the impact we have made on the global society,” asserted Walton. He contends the time has come “to celebrate our diversity as people of African descent.”

The Filmmakers’ Brunch begins at noon and includes panel discussions, networking and the screening of top Caribbean-produced films.

Walton, who is The Africa Channel’s executive vice president of sponsorship and corporate development, postulates the Caribbean region has huge potential to tell its own story to the world since the diversity of cultures in the region is not yet known on the world stage.

“But when the voices of the Caribbean are heard, they will make a statement. The world hasn’t yet heard or seen the real stories of the Caribbean. The emergence of a film industry can transport the imagery beyond sun, sea and surf to people, culture and heritage,” declared Walton.

Walton, a Yale graduate who traces his roots not only to Africa but also to Barbados, has more than 20 years of experience in advertising sales, television, film distribution, marketing and general management. He spent more than 10 years with CBS in New York, holding various management positions in sales, marketing and finance.

By the time he left CBS, he was responsible for marketing network television news, daytime, late night and children’s programs to a roster of major advertisers and their ad agencies with billings in excess of $75 million.

Frances-Anne Solomon, founder and CEO of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution (CTWD), announced her organization was honored to welcome Walton to the showcase.

The day’s activities, which run from noon to 10 p.m., also include a gala “Rum and Fishcakes” reception and the screening of the riveting documentary “Fire in Babylon”, the inspiring story of how a West Indies cricket side, one of the most gifted teams in sporting history, triumphed over its colonial masters.

Earlier in the day, guests will watch “Calypso Dreams,” arguably the best film ever made about calypso as it explores the roots of Kaiso in Trinidad & Tobago.

A few short films from up and coming Caribbean-American filmmakers’ will also be screened. They include “Dominion” (Barbados), “Jerk Chicken” (Jamaica), and “The Other Side of the Water” (Haiti).

CTWD, a member of the BIM Ventures family of entrepreneurs, has hosted two film festivals in Barbados, another in Canada, produced training workshops for filmmakers, and now has more than 60 films in its catalog.

The Showcase is supported by the The Africa Channel, Barbados Tourism Authority, Bay Gardens Resorts (Saint Lucia), Brammer’s Subway of Brooklyn, Bullzii Marketing, Caribbean Cookbook by Rita G. Springer, Caribbean Lifestyle TV, Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Consulate General of Barbados in New York, Caribbean International Network (CIN TV), Cockspur Rum, Creatively Speaking, Distribution Specialist Michelle Materre, Falco Ink, Funsation Media, Great Huts Resort (Jamaica), Ocean Style Magazine, Spanish Court Hotel (Jamaica), sxmtube.com, Third World Newsreel, Tribeca Film, and ZYNC TV.

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