Film-makers From 28 Countries For UWI’s GATFFEST

Photo: Rundranath Fraser Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, and Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Andrew, Hon. Fayval Williams (right), shares in a light conversation with Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Dr. Andrew Spencer (left); and Director of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Centre for Tourism and Policy Research and Chairman of the GATFFEST Film Festival, Professor Ian Boxill. Occasion was the launch of GATFFEST on May 11 at the UWI Mona Campus in St. Andrew. The festival, slated to take place from June 15 to 24 at venues in Kingston and Montego Bay, is an initiative of the UWI Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.

Story Highlights

  • Filmmakers from 28 countries will join local talent in showcasing their work in various genres at the 2017 staging of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) GATFFEST film festival.
  • Participants will compete for awards in 14 categories including best directing, most original screenplay, best cinematography, best local film, best international film, best animated film, best young film maker, viewers choice, and others.
  • Film showings will be held at several venues in Kingston and Montego Bay where the festival will also be held. The Montego Bay launch will take place on May 18.

Film-makers from 28 countries will join local talent in showcasing their work in various genres at the 2017 staging of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) GATFFEST film festival.

To be held from June 15 to 24 under the theme: ‘From the Streets to the Screen’, the event will feature workshops and screenings of films in the areas of drama, comedy, action, sci-fi, documentary, animation and suspense.  It is being organised by the UWI Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.

Participants will compete for awards in 14 categories including best directing, most original screenplay, best cinematography, best local film, best international film, best animated film, best young film-maker, viewers choice, and others.

The participating countries include Colombia, India and Japan, whose local embassies are among the sponsors of the event.

Other international entries came from as far afield as Malaysia, Afghanistan, Spain, Israel, Tanzania, Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

At the launch held on May 11 at the UWI Mona Campus in St. Andrew, Chairman of GATFFEST, Professor Ian Boxill,  informed that the 10-day festival has attracted tremendous interest with some 1,600 entries for the competitions.

He explained that the event was introduced in 2013 as the Greater August Town Film Festival to showcase the films produced by graduates of the UWI Community Film Project, providing an outlet for them to express themselves and to deal with issues in their communities.

The film project offers training in film and video production for youth in underserved communities such as August Town, Nannyville, Mona Commons, Trench Town, Jones Town and Mountain View in Kingston and St. Andrew; and Norwood, Canterbury, and Salt Spring in St. James.

The event, hailed as the Caribbean’s premier film festival, has since evolved to provide an opportunity to showcase new and emerging film-makers, who are telling stories through a mix of short films and documentaries.

Professor Boxill noted that while there has been an increase in the number of films produced in Jamaica, some of which have won awards locally and overseas, some film-makers have difficulty securing a spot in traditional media and in the movie theatres.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service and Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Andrew, the Hon. Fayval Williams (left), listens to graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Community Film Project, Allan Powell, during the launch of the UWI’s GATFFEST Film Festival on May 11, at the Mona Campus in St. Andrew. The festival, slated to take place from June 15 to 24 at venues in Kingston and Montego Bay, is an initiative of the UWI Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.

“GATFFEST is relevant in that it gives these film-makers an outlet to secure an audience and showcase their work,” he pointed out.

Professor Boxill, who is Director of the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research, said “we also want our film-makers to compete with those from across the world and ….show them what they need to aspire towards.”

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Andrew, Hon. Fayval Williams, in her address at the launch, congratulated the organisers of the Community Film Project, which, she said, has equipped over 100 young people with skills in basic film making and production.

A number of them have gone on to start their own businesses.

“Our young people really need this programme to continue…it fills them with hope. It gives them something useful to do and gives them the opportunity to develop a skill. I encourage you to continue this worthwhile activity,” Mrs. Williams said.

Film showings will be held at several venues in Kingston and Montego Bay where the festival will also be held. The Montego Bay launch will take place on May 18.

The film premiere for 2017 is ‘Children of the Incursion’,  which is a documentary exploring the psychosocial impact of the 2010 Tivoli operation on the children who lived through the ordeal.

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