Toronto Film Showcase Highlights The Power Of The Diaspora

Revealing the economic power of the Caribbean’s overseas communities, a new documentary will be screened at the 2011 CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase and Market Incubator Program at Harbourfront Centre from September 7 to 17, 2011.

The half-hour documentary “Forward Home” will have its world premiere on Wednesday, September 7 at 8 p.m. on the opening night of the sixth annual film showcase.

The film’s executive producer is economist and creative industries specialist, Dr. Keith Nurse, chairman of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution and director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies.

Produced and directed by award-winning Trinidad-based filmmaker Lisa Wickham, “Forward Home” illuminates the findings of Dr. Nurse’s ground-breaking research project, “Strategic Opportunities in Caribbean Migration”, which studies four Caribbean countries and their counterpart communities in global cities: Jamaica and London; Guyana and Toronto; Suriname and the Netherlands; and the Dominican Republic and New York.

“We have begun to document the uncharted territory of what we call ‘Diasporic Tourism,'”, explained Dr. Nurse who added “what has been widely known anecdotally, we now have empirical data – solid facts and sound research – to back it up.”

The groundbreaking two-year study shows that more than 60 percent of the tourists who arrive in Guyana and Suriname are “Diaspora travelers” or Caribbean nationals living abroad. In Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, these nationals account for between 15 to 20 percent of tourists who travel to the region.

“We have found that Diaspora Tourism is a significant component of Caribbean tourism, and it is not a monolithic construct. These are not just leisure tourists, but people who come for educational and medical reasons, for festivals and other cultural events. We have also found there is an intersection between Diasporic Tourism and the telecommunications, airline, shipping and media industries,” he said, noting that the findings have been far more dynamic than expected.

Dr. Nurse, who was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Trinidad, recommends more strategic planning and marketing on the Diasporic sector to further propel diversification of the Caribbean economy. By so doing, “we can encourage and enlist more Diasporic entrepreneurs, both at home and in the global cities where Caribbean diasporas predominate.”

Frances-Anne Solomon, CEO of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution (CTWD), said: “Keith Nurse’s film reflects the changing face of the Caribbean. Today’s modern Caribbean person, family and community are dynamic, diverse and international – this is exactly what our contemporary film stories reflect.”

The Toronto film screening is sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre which joined forces with the Shridath Ramphal Centre to commission the film. The findings of the study will also appear in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

The Toronto Showcase is co-produced with the Harbourfront Centre, and partners include The Consulate General for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Toronto, First Fridays, Green Light Artist Management, the International Development Research Centre, Pennant Media Group, Planet 3 Entertainment, Taffe Entertainment, Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies.

The CaribbeanTales Scholarship Fund is supported by Camilo Antonio, Carl Thorpe, Fil Fraser, Jay MacPherson, Jean Sheen, Rita Cox and Selwyn Rouse.