‘Tell our stories’

Film-makers urged to focus on Jamaica

Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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Film-makers have been urged to tell more Jamaican stories or risk their narrative being determined by outsiders. This call came from Gillian McDaniel, director of culture in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, as she addressed opening night of Reggae Films in the Park, at Emancipation Park in St Andrew, last Friday.

The event is organised by that ministry as part of celebrations observing Reggae Month.

According to McDaniel, almost all the films to be screened in Emancipation Park, as part of Reggae Month, are made by foreigners.

“The first film was made in Jamaica in 1908, Daughter of The Gods, so Jamaica has a storied history. Jamaica also has one of the oldest film Acts that was promulgated in 1945. Jamaica's Film Commission was promulgated in 1984, that's 35 years; so we have a long history of filmmaking in Jamaica,” she said. “One of the things you are going to be seeing over the next couple weeks are the number of documentary films [about Jamaica] that are made outside of Jamaica by non-Jamaicans. One of the things that I want film-makers that are here tonight, or just persons who are interested, you can use your cellphone to make a film,” McDaniel added. “I want you to become interested in documenting the lives of the people around you — not just taking selfies, but thinking about, researching, and documenting lives.”

She noted that in the last two years over 35 Jamaican entertainers have died and none of their stories have been documented.

“So, I want to interest you to evoke that sense of actually creating and making stories. A number of these documentaries that are made, are made by non-Jamaicans, so I want you to start telling our own stories,” McDaniel continued.

Friday featured two short films, Supermarket and Dutty Boy, originally made for the Reggae Film Festival a few years ago. They are directed by Jay Will and Renardo Chung, respectively, and were part of the festival's 'Make A Film in 24 Hours' category.

The small, but appreciative audience also viewed the documentary Reggaeology — Music Movement and Rise of The Indian Reggae Scene. Produced by ethnographers and film-makers, Instrupad in collaboration with Goa Sunsplash, it depicts India's growing reggae scene through the annual Goa Sunsplash in that country.

The evening's main attraction was the docufilm Marley, a 2012 project by British director Kevin MacDonald.

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