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Film Fest Challenges Virgin Islanders’ Creativity

The Paradise48 Film Festival challenges local cinephiles. (Graphic submitted by Paradise48.)

With little more than a smartphone, a few friends, and a weekend in go-go-go mode, creative U.S. and British Virgin Islanders could put a film festival win on their resume.

The Paradise48 Film Festival challenges would-be moviemakers from the BVI and USVI to push their cinematic instincts through the tightest of deadlines. Open to everyone in both territories, amateurs and video veterans alike, the competition has strict parameters and a few twists to thwart cheaters, said Laurika Jude, the festival’s director.

At exactly 8 p.m. on Friday, June 17, participants can start working on their short films. Any style or subject matter is open, Jude said, but the four-to-seven minute videos must be submitted in their final, edited form no later than 8 p.m. on June 19.

Planning ahead is limited to gathering a team — such as writers, directors, actors, editors, costume designers — and registering to participate, she said. At the stroke of 8 p.m., festival organizers will assign each team a randomly selected genre and four elements that must be used in their film: a character, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a famous landmark located on the filmmaker’s island.

“They can’t form any creative content in advance,” Jude said. “You do not need a professional camera. You can use your cell phone. It’s pretty much accessible to everybody.”

After two rounds of judging, festival managers will select their favorite ten films for a public screening in St. Thomas. From those films, the judges will decide the winners in seven categories: best director, best film editing, best screenplay, best actor, best actress, best cinematography, and the grand prize winner, best picture.

The audience, both virtual and in-person, will select the winner of the Paradise 48 Fan Fave prize.

Jude said she participated in a similar competition while in college in Orlando and was inspired to bring it home to the Virgin Islands.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. The idea stayed with her for more than a decade until last year when she reached out to the Department of Tourism’s Film Office for help. The festival is also partnering with the BVI Film Commission.

“My ultimate goal is always to showcase the talent of the Virgin Islands, period. Over the years I’ve been noticing emerging talent with videos and projects done proper. I was always impressed. And although we do have a film industry, I wanted to boost the local film industry more. I wanted to show more of the local talent,” she said. “Not just the USVI, the BVI as well.”

In the weeks leading up to the festival, Paradise48 organizers plan a series of workshops to teach different aspects of filmmaking. The workshops will be perfect for filmmakers ranging from first-time to professionals who may want to brush up on their filmmaking skills and/or learn new ones, Jude said.

Find out more at www.paradise48.com or @paradise48ff on social media.

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