Yardie is a story of revenge, trauma, redemption and loss.

The film, based off of the 1992 Victor Headley novel of the same name, was award-winning actor Idris Elba’s directorial debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The crime drama centres around Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) who is in search of his own path while living a life tainted with love, grief and loss. After losing his brother due to gun violence at the age of 13, D leads a lifestyle of drugs and crime that his late brother, Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary) wouldn’t deem “a righteous path.”

D is hired by crooked cocaine kingpin and music producer King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd) to deliver a package of cocaine to London. The trip is D’s personal quest for peace, after spending years being fed misleading information about his brother’s death. When he discovers the man who killed his brother is living in England, the opportunity for revenge presents itself.

Yardie officially premiered in Canada at the launch of the 14th annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival. The upcoming 20-day festival focuses on celebrating films and filmmakers from the Caribbean and across the diaspora, while also creating opportunities for aspiring filmmakers through an incubator program and pitch event.

This year’s festival theme “A New Day” fit perfectly with Yardie, a film set in 1970s Kingston, Jamaica and 1980s Hackney, London and depicting how the cycle of unresolved childhood trauma leads to much larger problems in adulthood.

“A New Day just speaks to a new day for the diaspora to live … for stories to be heard, told and recognized,” says Diana Webley, co-director of Caribbean Tales, adding that the festival is all about inspiring hope for a new generation of filmmakers across the diaspora.

Webley says Yardie, with its celebrity director Idris Elba and its appeal to the diaspora with both Jamaican and British aspects, was an eye-catching opening night film selected to bring people out. “It was a gateway to allow audiences to come and see the film as the Canadian premiere but then open everyone up to what Caribbean Tales stands for.”

… part of my mission and dedication in storytelling is to say our voices are needed too.”

Nicole Brooks

During the launch event’s Q&A panel, moderated by CBC journalist and television host Dwight Drummond, Nick Davis, manager of program development for CBC Radio, shared that while he enjoyed the film and it’s representation of women, it still had a lot of guns and gang violence, which he would like to see less of.

“There’s a whole breadth of other West Indian and Caribbean films that aren’t about violence or guns …,” he says. “I wish people would come out and support them, the way that we support these ones.”

Fellow panelist, Nicole Brooks, a playwright and mentor with the Caribbean Tales incubator program, pondered the possibility of how a Black woman would interpret and display the same content in comparison to Elba and Headley.

“I watch it through a different lens so what would that say to the same shoot ’em up content,” Brooks says. “… My experience would be very different in the interpretation of the same thing.” 

Later switching to her personal filmmaking passions, she adds that her mission is not only to support films, but get voices heard. “As a filmmaker and as a content creator … as a part of my mission and dedication in storytelling is to say our voices are needed too.”

The Caribbean Tales International Film Festival will run from September 4 to 20.

Photos supplied by Konvo Media Inc.

Gabrielle Austin is a writer who is passionate about all things film, TV, music and culture related. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Humber College after receiving her Advanced Diploma in 2016. When she’s not looking for her next writing idea, you can probably find her watching some kind of reality show or reading a book.

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