Meet Vincentian Filmmaker Tolga Akcayli

To start off, we will provide you with a summary on how a young Vincentian filmmaker managed to convince 46 millennials, of which 4 traveled from the US, to work for 2 months with no upfront pay, in order to be a part of what seemed like an over-ambitious dream.

It took about 152 phone calls of negotiations to convince and eventually create a crew of 7 and secure 39 actors to be a part of this film project; including regional celebrities, Alison Hinds, King Bubba and Hypasounds. Now, as you read this, the film has premiered in 4 countries, where it was the #1 film in the Barbados box office for 6 weeks, beating both X-Men Dark Phoenix and Godzilla.

Too Lickrish, a Barbadian action-comedy feature film was written and directed by a Vincentian, Tolga Akcayli. The film was nominated by the New York International Film Festival for “Best Fiction Film” a highly respected festival where over 2000 films were submitted and only 10 nominated for this category. The Vincentian-made film climbed the ranks and ended up as a finalist, where a film titled “The Astronaut” with a production budget of $119,000.00 USD ($320,000 EC) won the award – Too Lickrish had a budget of $3,700 USD ($10,000 EC.)

The film was selected to be screened at the London International Film Festival as the “International Honorary Film” a title awarded to a film submitted from a country for the first time in that particular genre, in this case, Comedy.

Too Lickrish has also been nominated by the prestigious independent film festival in South of France, the Nice International Film Festival. The festival takes place a week before the Cannes Film Festival, the exclusive celebrity red-carpet glamour event. Too Lickrish earned 3 nominations in South of France; “Best Comedy Movie,” “Best Lead Actress,” and a nomination for our very own Vincentian for “Best Director.”

Sadly, this all-expense paid trip to France has not only been postponed due to Covid-19’s global shut down, but now will be held entirely online. This was very disheartening news to all of the filmmakers nominated, as the dynamic of the film festival’s workshops, post-cinema reviews, meetings and networking events would not be the same.

Beachcombers Hotel, Flow and St. Vincent Brewery Limited, sponsored the official film premiere of  “Too Lickrish” in St. Vincent on March 12, 2020 at Russell’s cinema. The event completely sold out within the first 2 weeks, but local fans who weren’t able to get a ticket were left at ease after learning that it would be showing regularly at the cinema the next week. The venue was transformed into an impressive, captivating, Hollywood style setting thanks to the lead of Mrs. Flora Gunn, the Director of Beachcombers Hotel, Living Art Landscapes, Alex Grant and all the hardworking staff of Beachcombers Hotel.

Those who attended walked into dazzling lights setup by Flow, and walked on a red carpet where photographers blushed them with camera flashes. They were greeted with a selection of wine options thanks to Gonsalves Liquors, which paired with hors d’oeuvres prepared by Beachcombers Hotel’s kitchen, and were all quenched by Hairoun Beers, Hairoun soft drinks, and bottles of Tus-T water.

The film’s lead actor, Seth Bovell, and guest Star Alison Hinds, also attended the premiere. The movie start was announced and Tolga went up on stage to establish protocol and welcomed everyone to the first ever Vincentian Film Premiere. During the screening of the film, deafening laughter and cheers roared through the theatre. The film ended with a thunderous applause that invited Tolga and Seth down to the stage to host a 15 min question and answer panel. Unfortunately, the film only showed for one weekend, due the temporary closing of the cinema in efforts to reduce public social gathering.

Tolga wants to focus on Caribbean filmmaking, especially in his home country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He says it can contribute to skilled jobs among the upcoming generation, and once done right, it can bring in foreign income into the country in the millions. The films produced can also be honed for organic mass marketing because internationally renowned news stations and magazines such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Rolling Stone, GQ, and Forbes cover these film festivals.

He believes this is a cost effective way to advertise for both Tourism and foreign investment. He and many Caribbean filmmakers alike believe film is a wonderful avenue to export Caribbean culture – “it’s important to show the youths that the movie business can be possible in our homeland if we work hard together, and we can all thrive in its success as they do in Hollywood” Tolga said.

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