It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival (known locally as Caribana) has taken place. But at the end of July it’s set to make a grand return. There are sure to be plenty of things that will be the same about the festival. But one thing that will be different is the crowning on a new Queen of the Bands.
Becoming a Queen takes a look at the real-life story of Joella Crichton. She’s a York University graduate who has won the Queen of Bands crown at Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival nine times, including the last seven in a row. As incredible as it sounds however, the documentary shows that heavy is the head that wears the crown. Joella prepares to vie for her tenth, and final, overall crown in 2018.
The documentary features interviews with not only Joella, but her mother Lou-Ann and her sister Mischka as well as their old family friend Kenney Coombs who is a costume designer. Caribana is a way for all of them to connect to their cultural heritage as they work together. Above everything, you come to learn that it’s a way for Joella to creatively express herself. And she helps women of all shapes and sizes be proud of who they are.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend Caribana, or even know anything about it, Becoming a Queen helps you catch a glimpse of what it’s all about. You get to see the elaborate costumes and masks the performers wear, as well get a brief history lesson on how it all began and why it’s important. You also get to see all the hard work that goes into preparing the costumes and performances to win.
As beautiful as the scenery of the documentary is, Becoming A Queen falls flat in a few areas. For instance, there is no mention of the men’s competition that is just as important to the festival. And it would have been interesting to at least take a moment to see some of the other competitors and what they were going through. Instead the film solely focuses on Joella and her family, which makes the film drag on a bit. It would have been more interesting to see a film less focused on one competitor. This would have made it more well-rounded and less biased. Becoming a Queen is interesting, and worth watching, but it could have been much more than it is.
- Release Date: 7/19/2022