J'can film on the move - Delegations head to Canada, Trinidad this month
This month, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) will be leading delegations to two prominent film promotion platforms: the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (TTFF).
"Nineteen film industry professionals, along with me, will be heading to Toronto next week Wednesday," Jamaica's film commissioner RenÈe Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner. From September 7 to 14, the delegation will represent Jamaica's film industry professionals in Canada.
A press release from JAMPRO quoted Robinson as saying, "We have partnered with the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) to discover and cultivate an annual cohort of Jamaica's top film talent. The script-to-screen format originated at last year's Jamaica Film Festival and will continue as the PROPELLA! Initiative."
Further explaining the process, Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner that the PROPELLA! Initiative was launched earlier this year. From this project, five film-makers were selected and have been labelled the 'top five to watch'.
The quintet is among the 20-person strong delegation to the TIFF. They will also have the opportunity to premiere their work at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (TTFF), scheduled to take place from September 20 to 27, as part of PROPELLA!, JAMPRO and JAFTA's film development initiative.
Whether by fate or mere coincidence, American film and television star Nick Cannon directs and stars in the feature film King of the Dancehall, which will have its world premiere as a special presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, with showings each night until the 16th.
King of the Dancehall was filmed mostly in Jamaica and features an all-star cast including Whoopi Goldberg, Busta Rhymes, Louis Grossett Jr., Collie Budz, and Canadian-Jamaican recording artiste Kreesha Turner. Deejay Beenie Man narrates the film, which has the same name as the popular song from his 2004 album, Back to Basics.
The movie introduces Jamaica's rising starlet, Kimberly Patterson, who, according to film insiders, was specifically selected by Nick Cannon as the leading lady.
According to Robinson, Patterson (who is also a make-up artist), was nominated by the commission and has since been selected for the TIFF International Actor's Programme, This grants Patterson access to as well as insight into and advice from some of Hollywood's top casting directors.
Patterson, along with the local producer and casting director of King of the Dancehall, Odessa Chambers, are also among those who will be part of the Jamaican delegation to Canada.
"Over 4,000 film professionals have registered this year," Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner about TIFF. It is an opportunity she intends to capitalise on by reaching out to international producers and other film commissions. Robinson said that she would also be meeting with the British Film Institute to advance talks about its co-production treaty with Jamaica.
Regarding the Jamaica Film Festival (JaFF), which has been postponed for 2016, the press release quoted Robinson as saying, "the inaugural staging of the JaFF must be applauded for facilitating capacity building, exhibiting local content, and helping to build opportunities for international collaboration. Across the globe, national film festivals serve to showcase high-calibre content and catalyse business opportunities for industry professionals. Our goal for the next staging will be to have a results-driven impact on a content-ready and market-ready Jamaican film industry."
The inaugural JaFF was held in July 2015.
Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner that JAMPRO would have its own industry stand at the Toronto Film Festival as a means of promoting Brand Jamaica as the commission prioritises "having a stronger presence at international film festivals and working closely with our local talent to develop commercial opportunities".
JAMPRO aims to use the festivals to provide international exposure for film-makers, as well as to present Jamaica as a filming destination and content creation leader in the Caribbean.