Machel Montano
Machel Montano (Courtesy of Machel Montano via Instagram)

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In recognition of Caribbean Heritage Month, the annual DC Caribbean Film Fest kicks off Friday, June 9 with “Machel Montano: Journey of a Soca King,” the 2017 biopic of the Trinidadian musician who vies to bring the upbeat dance music of the island to the world.

Starting as a child prodigy, Montano continues to sell out arenas worldwide, performing with artists such as Ariana Grande, Sean Paul, Pitbull and Beenie Man.

The opening-night screening will feature a Q&A with filmmaker Bart Phillips and a post-screening reception.

​Now in its 17th year, the Filmfest, running through Monday, June 12, packs the weekend with films from the Caribbean and diaspora, including a bonus film on opening night, “Give Me Future,” about another musical phenom, dancehall band Major Lazer, whose music, such as hit single “Lean On,” is revolutionizing the electronic dance music (EDM) scene.

​The rest of the weekend is rounded out by two films from Haiti, “Serenade for Haiti” on Saturday and “Ayiti Mon Amour” on SundaY. Two films from Puerto Rico are also on the schedule — “Memories of a Penitent Heart,” by documentary filmmaker Cecilia Aldorando, and “Before the Rooster Crows,” a coming of age story about Carmin, who wants to join her mother in America only to have her hopes dashed.

​The four-day festival also presents the U.S. premiere of “The Watchman (El Hombre Que Cuda)” from the Dominican Republic, winner of the Curacao International Film Festival in Rotterdam and the Yellow Robin Award.

​The films slated for presentation include contributions from Jamaica (“King of the Dancehall”), Guadalupe (“Gangs of the French Caribbean/Le Gang des Antillais”), Bahamas (“Live Cargo”), Trinidad (“Play the Devil”) and USA/Grenada (“The House on Coco Road”).

​All screenings will be held at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center at 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Visit for a complete schedule and tickets. AFI Docs film festival, featuring a slew of documentary films from around the world, runs June 14-18 at AFI and other area venues.

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