- Local talents in scriptwriting, directing, producing and acting will get the opportunity to showcase their craft to the world, at the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Film Festival slated for July 7 to 11 in Kingston.
- The festival is aimed at attracting local and international investors to further the bolstering of the local film industry.
- She explained that 15 of these productions were shortlisted from 54 projects that were submitted, and will be developed and shown at the festival as premieres.
Local talents in scriptwriting, directing, producing and acting will get the opportunity to showcase their craft to the world, at the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Film Festival slated for July 7 to 11 in Kingston.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on February 17, Film Commissioner and Manager of Creative Industries at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Carole Beckford, said the festival is aimed at attracting local and international investors to further the bolstering of the local film industry; encouraging more local productions and showcasing Jamaican content; increasing the sales and distribution of local film and TV content; and attracting visitors to Jamaica.
“JAMPRO has taken on, as part of its initiative and mandate to develop the film industry, to look at it from an exporting standpoint in what we call a ‘Script to Screen Programme’ to initiate content developers to produce and present short films, features and documentaries during the five-day festival,” she highlighted.
She explained that 15 of these productions were shortlisted from 54 projects that were submitted, and will be developed and shown at the festival as premieres.
The 15 projects include three animation productions, three documentaries and the remainder being drama, comedy and history.
Miss Beckford said that the five-day festival will be a full package of entertainment, showcasing brand Jamaica and local talents in the film industry.
“So, the festival begins on Tuesday night, July 7, with an international show; Wednesday and Thursday mornings there will be workshops, then screenings in the afternoon. Friday is music day, where we will look at all the videos that were submitted with a barrage of music being played throughout Kingston. We have engaged our play producers to have special showings also, and Saturday night is the Grand Gala and awards,” the Film Commissioner outlined.
She pointed out that although the festival will be based at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, there will be a multiplicity of locations that will be utilised, including Kingston’s three main sports bars – Cuddyz, Tracks & Records and Triple Century – where screenings will take place.
Highlighting the selection process, Miss Beckford explained that “we had a call for films locally, and writers and directors submitted scripts. They were engaged in a three-day pitch session where they each had eight minutes to present the reason why we should have chosen them. Following that, they were shortlisted and we have 15 projects of short features, which should amount to about 300 minutes of airtime for the festival.”
She pointed out that the entrants have since been engaged in workshops on how to develop their scripts into quality productions.
“The scripts were read through by script experts and they have made suggestions to the directors. The second intervention was the acting master class and we are going to be doing sessions for post-production, marketing and distribution,” Miss Beckford informed.
The post-production sessions, she added, will come closer to April, at which time persons would have completed casting and shooting of the films.
She noted that the festival will allow existing and potential film makers, script writers, directors and producers to meet and network with key stakeholders in the film industry, locally and internationally.
“JAMPRO has contacts with Toronto, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Cuba, and we continue to maintain those contacts to get the word out. We are also inviting persons involved in marketing and distribution for films and television productions….we are targeting our Caribbean partners and some universities. We want to invite persons who host major film festivals across the world, so we are providing the market space for people to network,” Miss Beckford said.
Endorsing the initiative, film maker, director, writer and one of the shortlisted entrants, Dahlia Harris, noted that the festival will create an avenue for the work of local talents like herself, to be showcased.
“People will see the acting talent that we have…this will expose writing talent as well and encourage more film makers to come, as they will see that we have the technical resources here in Jamaica,” she said.
“One of the things this festival will do is a pulling together of assets …we have script writers, directors, audio and technical people operating in a vacuum and what this festival has already done through the workshops and pitch sessions is to force us to come together, in order to be able to pull off what we intend to be quality films,” Miss Harris added.
She also lauded JAMPRO on its efforts in developing the film industry, noting that “it is difficult for us, as film makers, to hit the market running as you need to have the kind of networking and contacts necessary for distribution and to get the films seen, so the film festival is a fast track for us, because the resources that JAMPRO will be able to put to the table to expose the films, we would not have been able to do that on our own.”