“Territory”: Dominican film wins best documentary at Canadian Film Festival

“Territory” Director Jael Joseph poses with her award for “Best Short Documentary”

“Territory,” a short film focused on the indigenous people of the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica- the Kalinago, wins Best Short Documentary at the 18th annual Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) and is the first submission by Director Jael Joseph to the festival, taking place in Toronto September 6-22, 2023. “Territory” tied for the title with “Negra, Yo Soy Bella,” a film by Puerto Rico’s Vashi Korin.

“To win on my first try, it’s just an incredible feeling and I dedicate this win to my late parents and the Kalinago people of Dominica, who are still navigating how to best protect and retain their culture, traditions and identity and whose trust and openness allowed me to share their stories.”

In her acceptance speech Jael thanked family friends, colleagues and mentors singling out CTFF founder, Frances-Ann Solomon from whom she drew “inspiration and influence.”

CTFF celebrates the talents of established and emerging Caribbean and African filmmakers, presenting a multi-ethnic mix of exciting and dynamic films that showcase diverse and shared cultural stories.  The 2023 submissions surrounded the theme Eco survivors bringing to focus the impact of climate change on Caribbean Small Island States (SIDS) and Canada.

Films selected into CTFF are reviewed by a programming committee (composed of film industry professionals- actors, producers, critics, tech), representing a mix of Caribbean islands, who determine winners in various categories.

For CTFF Festival Director, Diana Webley, “Territory” was awarded Best Short Documentary as it “provided a rare peek inside the Kalinago Territory in Dominica.”

“It is a film that reflects the current political situation and we wanted to shed light on it, she adds.”

In “Territory,” Jael and her film crew, spent ten days following Anette Sanford, Samoza John and Natasha Green, descendants of the island’s first people, who gave their take on the individual and communal challenges they faced as residents of the 3,700 acre Kalinago Territory- an area on the island’s northeast that was ceded to the Kalinago 120 years ago. The film delves into the political struggles they face and focuses on the loss of their language and inability to use their land for economic development.  The issues of the Kalinago were further juxtaposed against their recovery from Category 5 Hurricane Maria and the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film also featured guest appearances by Kalinago Chief Lorenzo Sanford and Hon. Cozier Frederick, parliamentary representative for the area.

Jael, a media entrepreneur and communications consultant, who splits her time between Dominica and Canada, is a Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) graduate, and was inspired to create this film alongside her research paper entitled, “Territory: Commonalities between the Reclamation of the Kalinago Language and Connection to Land.” For the paper she interviewed over 25 persons and developed some of the interviews into a 10-minute podcast called “Woryijan; Kalinago women and Intersectionality.”

While the award also signifies a personal achievement, Jael sees its wider impact as a testament to the incredible power of storytelling.

“It’s my hope that territory continues to serve as a beacon of the storytelling tradition, shining a light on untold narratives and fostering understanding and unity in our diverse world,” says Jael.

This experience has solidified her mission to champion the Kalinago people; and so far she has given support to events such as the Kalinago Spelling B competition through her brand Black Island Girl Multimedia, and has served as a vocal advocate for other initiatives within the community.

“I am really rooting for my Kalinago brothers and sisters,” says Jael. This documentary is just the start. I want to bring positive change to the community and commit to using my platforms to share their story and to impact their lives for the better.”

  “Territory” was funded with support from an anonymous donor as well as the proceeds of prize won from The Creative School’s 2022 Johnny Lombardi Award for Creative Endowment. The film can be viewed online till September 22nd as part of CTFF, and will be screened at more film festivals worldwide.

The CTFF Award ceremony was held on Sunday 17th September 2023 at the Studio Theatre Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. Here is the list of winners below:

Best Feature Documentary

“It is Not Past 08 12 1982”- Ida Does (Suriname)

Best Short Documentary (TIED)

“Territory”- Jael Joseph (Dominica)

“Negra, Yo Soy Bella- Vashni Korin (Puerto Rico)

Best Short Film

“Here Ends the World We’ve Known”- Anne-Sophie Nanki (Guadeloupe)

Best Comedy

“My Maxi”- Andrei J. Pierre (Trinidad & Tobago)

Best Animation

“It’s Nice in Here” Robert-Jonathan Koeyers (Curaçao / Amsterdam)

Caribbean Spirit Award

“Tabanca”- Lauren Marsden (Trinidad & Tobago / Canada)

Intersect Award

“My Lady of the Camelia”- Édouard Montoute (French Guiana)


Impact Award

“Powerlands”- Ivey-Camille Manybeads Tso (USA)

 Innovation Award

“Yubism: Life and Art of Yubi Kirindongo”- Corry van Heijningen (Curaçao)


Best Cinematography

“Eden River”- Jack Evans (Belize)

Follow Jael online at jaeljoseph.com. Facebook @iamjaelj and LinkedIn @jaeljoseph

Watch “Territory” HERE.


“Territory” Director Jael Joseph poses with her award for “Best Short Documentary”


Dominican Director Jael Joseph

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  1. Joyette
    September 21, 2023

    Congratulations Shelly! Great work! You have made us proud!

  2. Adella Toulon-Foerster
    September 20, 2023

    Congratulations, Jael! I am looking forward to seeing this. x

  3. RastarMarn
    September 19, 2023

    Soh DNO one picture wasn’t enough den what’s up with the closeup!!!

    I mean good on Mamzelle for checking her scene like dat but all dat closeup inside her nose wasn’t really necessary nuh DNO,,,

    And if mamzelle reading or whoever answer this:

    What’s up with all them rings in the nose dere nuh,,, is not dat dey does do dem pigs nuh when dey doh want dem to churn up Labou,,,

    RastarMarn know there is such a thing like Artistic expression and individuality but god give us one body wi and once we pierce it up and mark it up like dat, we cannot go change it nuh like we changing clothes,,,

    One more question: wonder if mamzelle have a ride you know a car is it all pieced up like that in the grill and bonnet wiff all kinna metal objects,,,,

    Just a talk for Man on the street,,,

    All you can say what allyou want Foolishniss is foolishiniss even doh all you tink Rastarmarn Fool-ish for saying dis!!!

  4. Bwa-Banday
    September 19, 2023

    So how much was the take home purse? Was it just an award? Hopefully she was paid handsomely for all this effort.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
  5. Clarity
    September 19, 2023

    Excellent! well done Jael on telling a compelling story which is a tribute to the indigenous Kalinago people. Can’t wait to see what you do next :-D

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  6. James
    September 19, 2023

    Unbelievable documentary I never realised the level of discrimination faced by the Kalinago people in Dominica by the black majority…!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2
    • Magway sa
      September 20, 2023

      Really? Well the kalinago people are not innocent at how they look at the blacks either. I know because my siblings are kalinago.

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