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Jamaicans will be treated to the best of local feature films, documentaries and music videos, as part of activities to mark Reggae Month (February), during the first annual reggae film festival, which is being held in Kingston from February 20 – 22.
The film screenings kicked off last night (February 20), at Emancipation Park and will, over the period, feature more than 30 films, according to Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange.
Speaking at a press conference on February 20, she noted that a number of Jamaican premieres would be screened, including: ‘Roots Time’, an amusing feature by Argentinian, Derek Jacobi; ‘Almost Heaven’, a German film about a would-be country and western singer who gets on a plane to Nashville and ends up in Jamaica.
Among the documentaries are the much acclaimed ‘Roots of Reggae’, the Ernie Ranglin Story by noted Hollywood producer, Arthur Gorson; ‘Dub Echoes’, by Brazil’s Bruno Natal, which traces the roots of reggae music, with interviews and clips. The documentary of Peter Tosh by Wayne Jobson and titled ‘Stepping Razor, RedX’, is also featured; ‘Destination Jamaica’, by Canadian-Jamaican George Tait; and ‘Portrait of Mr. Pink’, by English film-maker Helen Appio.
The music video category has the largest number of entries, including the series called ‘Duppy Arts’, which feature animated characters of local artistes, such as Yellow Man. Special guest for the festival is Peter Gittens, a United Kingdom archivist of reggae films, who has spearheaded the submission of most of the festival’s films. Other special guests are United States Hollywood producer, Arthur Gorson, of box office hits, such as ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Better Watch Out’; Jep Jorba from Brazil, who is the director of ‘Dub Echoes’; and Bill Parker, the director of ‘Klash’.
Special Jamaican guests are producer/directors, Wayne and Dickie Jobson as well as Carl Bradshaw. The reggae film festival continues for two nights at the Courtleigh auditorium. Tomorrow (February 22), there will be a gala night and the induction of six Jamaican pioneers in film. There will also be screening at the University of the West Indies global reggae conference on February 22 and February 23 and the screening of rastafarian-themed films at the Marley Museum today
The film festival continues tonight beginning at 7:30 p.m. along with reggae academy opening night reception and showcase at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
Inductees in the Jamaica Film Academy, Minister Grange said, include film producer, Chris Blackwell, who began his career as the main financial backer of Perry Henzel’s ‘The Harder They Come’; actor Carl Bradshaw; Sally Henzel, widow of Perry Henzel, who is to be inducted on his behalf; and Trevor Rhone, whose stage play, ‘Smile Orange’, became one of the earliest Jamaican feature films.
Also to be inducted are: cinematographer, Franklyn St. Juste, who began his film career as a cinematographer at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS); and documentarian, Cynthia Wilmot, who joined the JIS in the mid-1960s to make short documentaries on government topics. She partnered with Hillary Nicholson to produce several documentaries on heritage, environmental and historic themes, including a six-part documentary on national hero, Norman Manley.
Sponsors of the festival are the Jamaica Tourist Board, Altamont Court Hotel, Strawberry Hill Hotel, Virgin Airlines, Irie FM, CVM-TV, Hype TV, and Courtleigh Hotel and Suites.