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Film-maker to shoot Jamaican 'Peter Pan' - Adaptation will show harsh realities of child abuse

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2015 | 5:00 AMDavina Henry
Jamaican film-maker Aisha Porter-Christie

Jamaican film-maker Aisha Porter-Christie has launched a campaign on the popular Indieogo fundraising platform, seeking to crowd-fund US$4,000 to complete her project, Lost Boy. With a storyline set in Jamaica, the film is an adaptation of the prolific tale of Peter Pan.

Porter-Christie, who studied at the prestigious Columbia University in New York, says that while making the film allowed her to explore her own love of J.M. Barrie's classic tale, Lost Boy brings attention to the serious issue of Jamaican children going missing.

"Upwards of 100 children go missing every month. That's frightening in any context, but when you take into consideration that there are less than three million people in Jamaica, you start to realise that it is actually a crisis," she said.

In Lost Boy, a 12-year-old boy named Peter Clarke lives in the hills of rural St Catherine, having run away from an abusive orphanage. He has regular, but secret, meetings with his best friend (Marissa) and, on one visit, things don't go so well. "He's precocious," Porter-Christie said of her 'Peter'. "He has a deep sense of adventure, a hero complex, though he's just 12, but most of all, he thinks he can handle anything that life throws his way," she continued. "When it becomes clear that this visit isn't going to be as routine as the others, Peter has some tough lessons to learn. The two most important things that he takes away is that he's still a child and, unfortunately, not everyone can be saved," she said.

Porter-Christie, who has worked as a writing intern for the Emmys, led the Lost Boy team as director, writer, and producer. She worked alongside Gareth Daley (director of photography) and Thelma Porter (co-producer). Chicago-based Jackie Todd also worked as a producer on the film.

Casting Jamaica as a "massive playground", Porter-Christie says Lost Boy showcases the "joys of growing up surrounded by overwhelming tropical beauty and the richness of Jamaican culture". "The intersection of those two things alone make for a very interesting childhood," she said. "But we also explore the dark side of growing up in Jamaica. The rates of child abuse and murder continue to rise and it is extremely troubling," said Porter-Christie, who did her undergraduate studies at Ryerson University in Toronto and was named one of Canada's 'Top 10 Grads to Watch' in 2012 by Playback Magazine.

She intends to submit Lost Boy to several film festivals once post-production is complete. Her other short film, IDYLLWILD, played at the 2014 Bahamas International Film Festival, and has since been nominated for a number of awards at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the Madrid International Film Festival.

 

Film-making expensive

 

"Film-making is one of the best things. It's very fulfilling, very rewarding, but it's also very expensive", said Porter-Christie. "We need to clear up a few bills, as well as pay for post-production work. Things like editing, meals for the actors and crew, transportation, and submission fees for a few of the film festivals, we want to get into. And we know that everyone can't donate. So if you can help by spreading the word, then that's great!" she said.

Since childhood, Porter-Christie has been obsessed with the story of Peter and Wendy, and Lost Boy loosely adapts the premise of J.M. Barrie's beloved classic to a modern, realistic, Jamaican setting. It centres on Peter Clarke, an artful, precocious boy with a deep sense of adventure and a bit of a hero complex. When he discovers his best friend Marissa is in trouble, he tries to take matters into his own hands. But as things quickly spiral out of control, he is forced to face the reality that he is only a child and that not everyone can be saved.

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