'Ring Di Alarm!' comes home to full house
Amitabh Sharma, Contributor
"We can fill the cinema like any Hollywood film," announced Storm Saulter to an applauding audience on Wednesday evening, as the curtains were raised on the Jamaican premiere of Ring Di Alarm!
After a brief cocktail reception, those who packed the hall at Carib 5 Cinema in Cross Roads, St Andrew, converged in a humid, cramped passageway, waiting to enter the auditorium. There was some jostling, causing one impeccably dressed lady, juggling her smartphone, cup of drink and a bag of popcorn, to exclaim, "I feel like I am in a country bus!"
The wait was not too long, however, and when the multitude finally settled into their seats, it was time to celebrate the 'homecoming' of Ring Di Alarm!, which is a heady mix of seven short films - some poignant and hard-hitting, others sprinkled with hints of humour.
"This (premiere) was the end of a very long journey, and we were very happy with the overwhelming response," said Michelle Serieux, a producer and director involved in the project.
Filmed at various locations across Jamaica, the seven short features, which are the creative work of six directors, touch issues of the terra firma, such as people's challenges, circumstances and their resultant reactions.
"All stories were home-grown," Serieux said. "This made the storyline and the film authentic, with each film-maker bringing their own unique sensibility and artistic influence to their film, which resonated their own unique flavour."
The seven films blend Jamaica's natural beauty with the storyline and characters, from aerial shots of the shoreline with turquoise blue waters splashing on the lush green land mass, to the mist-kissed Blue Mountains.
Ring Di Alarm! showcases Coast and the Young Sea (directed by Nile Saulter), Missed (directed by Michelle Serieux), My Vote (Joel Burke), Sunday (Kyle Chin), Parish Bull (Michael 'Ras Tingle' Tingling), and Watching Him Kiss Her (Storm Saulter).
Coast, set in Negril, examines the balance of good and evil as Patasha, the main character, is faced with making a choice, realising how frightful or ravishingly beautiful this island can be. Missed, on the other hand, looks at the complexity of a couple's clouded relationship, as Catherine is forced to confront her husband's Blue Mountain roots.
My Vote highlights Akeem, who is on the run, and a mob from his own community, while The Young Sea, scrutinises youth and its confusion.
In Watching Him Kiss Her, a young woman contemplates revenge for her husband's infidelity, and in Sunday, a gunman seeks refuge in the neighborhood church. The question is, will he be reformed as he avoids the police in the house of God?
Parish Bull, on the other hand, pans Michael's wantonness and the breakdown that lurks round the bend.
All the movies were accorded ovation, peals of laughter and occasional finger whistling, as the countryside travails were well received in the urban landscape. Executed with little or no resources, save for a generous helping from friends and families, Ring Di Alarm! is a commendable maiden venture by the group of visual arts professionals.
"Caribbean cinema is yet to be refined," commented Serieux. "The communal and collaborative way might be one of the means articulate the region's culture."
The St Lucia-born producer and director dedicated this venture to Franklyn 'Chappie' St Juste, who was the premiere's guest of honour.
"He has been an inspiration, mentor, teacher and a pioneer. We respect him a lot," she said.
The Ring Di Alarm! saga continues on Saturday, August 23, at Carib Cinema.
'Ring Di Alarm!'