Schools from across the Turks and Caicos Islands turned out in droves at the first day of the three-day Turks and Caicos International Film Festival (TCIFF), which is the Youth Expo - at the Edward Gartland Youth Centre in Providenciales on Friday.
The primary and secondary school children got a memorable taste of podcast, social media creation and how to care for the environment in a fun way.
They spent the day learning now to use refuse to create usable items, cohosting in podcasts, sound-studio recording, engaging in sound engineering, and learning about sharks and other exciting wildlife.
Areja Handfield of British West Indies Collegiate said the event taught her much more about wildlife on Turks and Caicos Islands and how each person could play their part in sustaining the environment.
Emma Boulet also of British West Indies Collegiate said she enjoyed learning more about sharks especially. She said among the events that fascinated her was how whales care for their young.
Darnique Handfield of the Adalaide Oemler Primary School in North Caicos said the entire day for her was chockfull of fun. She said every presentation and demonstration was a great learning experience for her.
Colin Burrows, Director of the TCIFF was also thrilled with the opening day of the annual event. He said it was not the first rodeo for many of the children who were in attendance Friday.
“What’s really nice is a lot of the kids now have been doing this several times. So, that is certainly telling me that they are coming in, they are enthusiastic, they are so focused. We don’t need to preach to kids about the environment…they get it. They are so enthusiastic, and so we have to keep our game up. Every year we have to find new things to do, new ways to tell stories,” Burrows said.
For her part, local organizer of the festival, Karen Whitt, told NewlineTCI that the Youth Expo was her preferred part of the event.
“This is undoubtedly my favourite part of the festival, and I am sure that others have said that as well. We all have different reasons for why.
“I live here on the island, and I want to see youth embracing the concept of the film industry, dovetailing with sustainability of our natural resource because at the end of the day that is what we are really selling. We are selling the beautiful by nature sun, sand and sea, and the talents of our people,” Whitt said. And so, it is just heartwarming to see the kids coming together.
She added: “We have brought in experts and professionals from all over the world, with everything from costume designing to movie production, music production, as well as people like the Sharks4Kids team, who specialize in teaching sustainability at the underwater level…because, again, when you talk about natural resources, that is one of the greatest ones that we have is under the water. And their mission is to demonstrate that bad things…they are amazing things.”
Whitt pointed out that TCIFF was developed to introduce a new industry to the TCI– film – and everything that surrounds it.
World renowned costume designer Sharen Davis, who has worked with a number of A-List celebrities, including Will Smith and Jaimie Foxx, who was invited to the festival to lend her inspiration to budding fashion and costume designers, was on hand to motivate the students.
“Being inspired by someone like her will give these kids hope…it will let them see that ‘I can do that.’ For me, the festival is about education, it is about opportunity, it’s about sustainability,” Whitt noted.
Among the major sponsor of the event is the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly was also on hand to motivate the youngsters. She told the gathering that she would soon take a cabinet paper on film to Parliament, with the intent of creating legislation.
Jaimie McAnally, General of Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort and Spa was also on hand to encourage to youth to care more for the environment as they learn more about the film industry.