Guests add to Cinema Paradise
Davina Henry, Staff Reporter
In 1972, Jamaica's first feature film, The Harder They Come, exposed the island's music and culture to the world on celluloid. Decades later, there is enough output to support Jamaican film festivals such as Flashpoint (which was held in Negril, Westmoreland, and briefly in Kingston) and the staple short-film night on the annual Kingston On The Edge (KOTE) Urban Arts Festival.
Though these film-centred events have often been confined to urban areas, the Cinema Paradise film festival is on a mission to change that. To be held for five days from August 27 to 31, at Boston in the picturesque parish of Portland, the organisers will screen 15 movies and short films.
Some of those who have a hand on what is on screen will be at Great Huts, where Cinema Paradise will be held, in the flesh. Cinema Paradise will kick off on Wednesday, August 27, with Dinner and a Show, patrons being treated to the screening of Smile Orange and One People. The guest element begins on Thursday, August 28, when the 'Dinner and a Show' theme is continued. One Love and The Harder They Come will be screened. Rick Elgood is the guest for One Love.
Friday, August 29, themed 'Culture Night', features Sankofa (with guest Mutabaruka) and Life and Debt, while Saturday is billed Blockbuster Night and more recent films will be shown. These include Ghett'A Life (guest Chris Browne), Better Mus' Come (guest Storm Saulter), and the newly released Ching Pow: Far East Yardies (guest Bruce Hart), which utilises a Taiwanese-made martial arts film with a remade dialogue done mainly by the duo Twin of Twins.
The final night, Sunday, August 31, is dedicated to short films, including Red Amber Green, Ring Di Alarm, Hazardous Darling, Rasta Mean Wheel Out and Less' own Golden Trumpet. There will also be guests for the closing night of the inaugural Cinema Paradise.
Festival organiser Carlo 'Amlak' Less, told The Gleaner that plans are already in place to make the event an annual one.
"This is the first of its kind in Portland and it is being sponsored by Great Hut Resorts. The property has been embarking on new marketing strategies such as hosting cultural events. Last month was the Symposium on Rastafari and this month is the film festival," he stated.
He added that next year, the event will be held at Boston Bay, which is adjacent to the Great Huts. "It's going to be bigger and better next year, and Boston Bay has a natural amphitheatre setting that would be a great backdrop for the festival," Less said.
With several Jamaican classics included in this inaugural screening such as Smile Orange and The Harder They Come, Less told The Gleaner that he and his team reached out to several film-makers and compiled the schedule based on the responses.
"The fact is, Jamaicans love seeing themselves on the big screen. We thought it would be an amazing opportunity for the people of Portland to experience a film festival such as this. I know that all film-makers want Jamaicans to see their work, and bringing this festival to Portland is just one avenue of exposing the talented film-makers that Jamaica has to offer," he stated.
One of the many movies making their debut on big screen in Portland is Sankofa, starring famed poet Mutabaruka. Sankofa is an Akan word that translates into English as "reach back and get it." Therefore, as "we must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today," Sankofa is a powerful film about Maafa - the African Holocaust.
"This was actually shot several years ago, but was not seen in Jamaica owing to distribution restrictions. It was, however, successfully shown in the United States and has even been used as a model on how to do short films," Less stated.
There is no cost to attend Cinema Paradise. "This event is free of cost, so it is open to one and all. I know that because of economic constraints, film festivals would usually charge a fee. But because of the generosity of our sponsor, we wanted to make it free for the people of Portland so that they can come and enjoy what we have in store," Less told The Gleaner.