Don’t tell TIFF but The Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) has scored a big one! Thursday night – July 4th - the CTFF is showing Yardie at the downtown Royal Cinema. This is the Canadian debut for a feature length thriller that was directed by British film star Idris Elba.
“We tried for it last year, but, they wanted to make a big splash and tie Yardie into a screening with a distributor, it never happened” explained Dianne Webley Co-Director of the CTFF. “We continued to push to get the movie for Toronto and a year later here we are having the Canadian premier at the Royal Cinema this evening (Thursday July 4th). We are using the showing to introduce the line-up of films for this year’s Festival, so Yardie will get a terrific splash!’
The movie’s plot takes viewers from Jamaica to England some 40-years ago. Reeling from his brother’s death in a shooting when he was a child, Dennis Campbell, aka “D”, is hired by Jamaican crime lord and reggae producer King Fox to deliver a package of cocaine to British gangster Rico who resides in the Borough of Hackney in London. But when Dennis finds out that the man who killed his brother years ago is also living in England, he is torn between revenge against the murderer and the duty he was sworn to do.
Most readers will instantly recognize the name of the film’s director. Edris Elba is also an English actor, director, writer, producer, musician, DJ, rapper and singer. He is best known for taking versatile acting roles on TV including Stringer Bell in The Wire and John Luther in the BBC series Luther.
In movies Elba appeared in some of the world’s top box-office hits including American Gangster, Thor, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Infinity War. He also starred in Pacific Rim, Beasts of No Nation and Molly’s Game. This is his directorial debut with Yardie which is based on the best selling Jamaican/British 1992 novel written by Victor Headly.
Director Elba describes his movie as “a story about a young man dealing with the trauma of losing (murdered) a sibling at the tender age of 10. Victor Headley’s book was one of the few books I read as teenager, I’m not a big reader, so this was a big deal to me at the time and the story stuck to my ribs for many years.” “I knew I could bring to life in a unique way, in a way that was driven by my own experiences as a young BWOY growing up in East London. I wanted to craft the visuals as I remembered them, with every moment detailed in a way that the viewer leaves the film as if they were there too".
The feature film is a year old but has not shown in many theatres …. anywhere. What few showing it has had, stellar reviews have followed although some criticism as been levelled against the movie for what they feel is stereotypical scenes of black city violence.
Amazon Prime just recently picked up the movie in the US, on a pay-per-view basis but is not viewable by Canadian subscribers. According to Webley the film company is still pushing for a North American theatre distribution deal, but, for now, this is the only chance Canadians have got to see the 101-minute British Jamaican thriller in a theatre.
The showing of Yardie is part media launch and part public showing. The Caribbean Tales International Film Festival, now in its 14th year, is using the Yardie screening to promote the many Caribbean and Canadian films that will screen during the festival which takes place from September 4 - 20, 2019, at various locations throughout Toronto.
Tonight's event is open to the public, however the organizers report that as of Wednesday most of the tickets have been purchased. Tickets may still be available at the Royal Cinema box office (608 College St.) Speeches and the screen begin at 7pm. The event ends at 10pm.