The Common Ground of African, Caribbean TV-Film.

Author:Bissoon, Dianne

It's easy to see how the shared historical identities of both Africa and the Caribbean regions impact their film-TV industry, and hence why it is possible to have shared distribution.

The lower production costs in Africa make it easier to penetrate the Caribbean market. Not very many Caribbean producers have been able to penetrate the U.S. market, but some talent from both Africa and the Caribbean have made it onto U.S. screens. These include Sidney Poitier from the Bahamas, Harry Belafonte from Jamaica, Kenya's Lupita Nyong'o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Winston Duke from Trinidad and Tobago, to name a few. This crossover of talent, skill, and blockbuster success has given a new generation of actors hope that they too can impact not only their regions, but also Hollywood.

Caribbean TV outlets and operators, because of their geographical location, size, and unique culture, often find themselves caught in a conundrum wherein networks and studios clear Latin America rights for the region. Being predominantly English-speaking, they tend to favor North American and British content.

The African culture is deeply embedded in the modern history of the Caribbean, which began in the 15th century with the adoption of an economy based on sugarcane production.

Under this system, enslaved black Africans were used as labor. It is estimated that some 12 million enslaved Africans came to the Caribbean between 1650 and 1850 during periods of colonization by the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch.

The traumatic experience of slavery made the population adopt the artistic, musical, literary, culinary, political, and social elements of Africa.

Films were also influenced by the true historical identities of African cultural groups, such as the Igbo (Nigeria), Yoruba (Benin, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia), Nupe (mostly in Uganda), and Malinke-Wangana (Ghana). Both North and Sub-Saharan Africa would play an influential role in Caribbean cinema.

Even though the Caribbean film market was dominated by the American film industry for decades, the region would eventually carve its own brand of cinema by making fun of the historical, political, and social similarities between the U.S. and the Caribbean.

In the Caribbean, parts of Sub-Saharan and Western African countries, such as Nigeria, used their common background of politics, social issues, history, oppression, and religion. This is why they also share similar ways of filmmaking and storytelling...

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