Sat | May 25, 2019

Made in Ja, should be shown in Ja - Boxill pushes for more J'can films' screen time

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Sheldon Shepherd (left), Everaldo Creary (centre) and Richard Orgill in a scene from 'Better Mus' Come'.
A poster from 'Ghett'A Life'.
Film Commissioner Renee Robinson.
Professor Ian Boxill

A suggestion by film commissioner Renee Robinson last November has recently been reinforced by Professor Ian Boxill, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. At the concluding event at this year's GATFFEST Film Festival at the university, Boxill revisited the idea, which addresses the lack of outlets for young Jamaican film-makers to ensure that their films can be seen by the general public.

Robinson had suggested the implementation of a exhibition or screen quota system. "The exhibition quota system for local content needs to specify that a certain percentage of exhibition time is reserved for local narrative content," she said. She also spoke about scheduling parameters to prevent domestic content being pushed into undesirable programming slots.

These quotas, via direct legislation or buy-ins for economic growth goals would enforce a minimum number of screening days for domestic films in cinemas each year, to protect the nation's domestic output. "This is not a new model. It is a standard best practice all across the globe, with excellent results in Canada, France, the UK and Australia. Increasingly, we are seeing this practice grow in Latin America and Africa as well, with South Africa, Colombia and Mexico leading legislative reform in their respective film industries," Robinson said.




More recently, Boxill also proposed the development of a viewing facility on the Mona campus, which would screen locally made films on a regular basis. This could be done through exploring a public-private partnership, "where this is done in a businesslike manner".

Boxill saids "I don't know that we can sit and leave it up to our politicians and policymakers. We believe there is much more we can do,"

In a GATFFEST workshop, Andrew Tucker, who is currently teaching documentary filmmaking at various universities in Colombia, and co-sponsored by the Colombian Embassy, focused on film-making on a low budget. During his workshop, Tucker raised the point about the funding model for emerging independent films in Colombia. "In Colombia, there is a law which mandates cinemas to show short films from Colombian film-makers before the main event," he said.

At the GATFFEST 2017 finale, Boxill said he has begun discussions with the Colombian ambassador to Jamaica. "He has agreed to share with me the Colombian piece of legislation, so I think that at some point, we should look at this legislation, enter into a discussion with JAMPRO and the others, and see how we can assist film-making," Boxill stated.