Powerful documentary advocates reparation
Michael Reckord, Contributor
The audience gave Jamaican film-maker Karen Marks Mafundikwa a standing ovation on Sunday afternoon after her documentary, The Price of Memory, was screened in the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, University of the West Indies, Mona.
Discussion, comments and questions continued for nearly an hour in the packed auditorium after the Jamaican premiere of the film. Its major themes are the legacy of slavery in Jamaica, reparation for the injustices done during and after slavery, and repatriation to Africa.
It was clear that, overwhelmingly, the viewers of the 83-minute documentary, which took more than a decade to make, felt they had had a meaningful experience. Shot in Jamaica and England, it also used much footage from the archives of the National Library of Jamaica and elsewhere.
The Queen is the first person mentioned in the printed programme's 'cast' list, though her role is not that of the traditional 'star', since she does not appear to favour the reparation that the film advocates. Still, she was a catalyst for the work, which grew out of a project undertaken by the writer/director when she decided to make a brief documentary on the Queen's visit to Jamaica to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.
Others appearing in the film who were also in the audience included Philmore Alvaranga, who was among the first groups of Rastafarians going to Africa to discuss repatriation in 1961, UWI lecturer Dr Clinton Hutton, and attorneys-at-law Michael 'Miguel' Lorne and Lord Anthony Gifford. Gifford is shown speaking in the House of Lords in favour of reparation, as are many Jamaican members of parliament when the matter is shown being debated in Gordon House. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is among them. Central Clarendon Member of Parliament Mike Henry, who was in the audience, said that the Government was committed to continue the controversial debate and he hoped that the matter would eventually be put to the Jamaican people for a decision as to the way forward.
About 15 minutes of Rasta drumming and chanting by the band, Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, preceded the showing of the film. Their first song, a greeting in Yoruba, was followed by We All Have a Right to Live Right, By the Rivers of Babylon, Give Mi Back Mi Language an Mi Culture, and Waan Go Home.
The documentary has already earned a nomination for the Best Documentary Feature and People's Choice Award for the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival to be held in Port-of-Spain from September 16-30. It was screened in Los Angeles at the Pan African Film Festival, the Africa in Motion Film Festival 2014, and Just Festival 2014, in Glasgow, and Mafundikwa, the senior consulting officer in JAMPRO's Film Commission and Creative Industries Unit, told The Gleaner that it would again be shown in Jamaica, in Montego Bay, during National Heroes week in October.