'Aunty Roachy' festival serves up a cultural feast
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
The Aunty Roachy Festival, named for the character created by poet, actress and folklorist Louise Bennett, was tailored to showcase the storytelling talent of the Jamaican Literary, Film and Television communities. The festival held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre featured a short film competition, trailers from a new television programme, a book fair, poetry reading and storytelling.
The festival kicked off with a book fair-themed Lunchtime Book Stew. This featured book launches, play and dramatic readings, an open mic poetry, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission creative writing showcase, and a tribute to Professor Edward Baugh.
Patrons were able to view television segments, which featured tributes and reflections to folklorist Miss Lou, while the film segment showcased a collection of short films. Presentations were also made from publisher Kelly Magnus; writers Roland Watson Grant, Jean Lowrie-Chin, Basil Dawkins, and Mel Cooke, as well as actors Deon Silvera and Christopher 'Johnny' Daley.
Tanya Batson-Savage, publisher at Blue Moon Publishing and a director of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, said the festival epitomises the Jamaican spirit. "The participants here are all at their core, and so aptly named after Miss Lou; the folklore, dramatic productions, multidimensional writer that this kind of festival highlights," Batson-Savage said.
"The redesigned Jamaica Festival includes an expansion of activities to incorporate most areas of the cultural and creative industries, including literature, film, television, culinary arts and fashion. Quite a bit of effort went into the planning process and a bit of goodwill, energy and commitment," Batson-Savage said.
According to Latoya West-Blackwood, publishing consultant at MAPCO Printers Limited, one of the exhibitors, the company will no longer be just a printery, but will be evolving into a consultancy. "We will now guide our clients through the process from concept to printing," West-Blackwood said.
She stated that outside of its main staple of magazine production, they will now start publishing books primarily targeting memoirs and fiction. "There are many emerging Caribbean writers and we would like to capture these persons and put out their works," West-Blackwood said.
Other exhibitors included Blue Moon Publishing, Everything Learning, Novelty Trading Company, Krystal Cameron Designs, and Ian Randle Publishers. According to Elaine Thompson, sales manager at Ian Randle Publishers, they became involved in the festival to highlight the local range of authors and books in their collection. Included in the exhibit was The Real Taste of Jamaica by Enid Donaldson, and The Story of the Jamaican People by Philip Sherlock.
The Auntie Roachy Television, Film and Literary Festival was included in the activities for the Emancipendence celebrations as part of an effort to develop and promote Jamaican narratives in all forms.