UPDATED: For the Reckord | 'Rescue' docudrama launched to 'save our people'
Potentially the most important of last week's National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) Week activities was the launch of a 35-minute docudrama, Rescue, written, directed and produced by Kevin 'Nana Moses' Calvert.
Sandra Graham, public relations and communication director at the justice ministry, said Calvert got three general guidelines: "I told him, don't give me Government, don't make the story predictable and do make it gripping."
The story invites viewers to empathise with the plight of the lead character, a likeable young woman down on her luck, who is tricked by a handsome, smooth-talking man in a shiny big car. She was then abducted and abused. This plot could not be more common.
Of course, it's common because it happens in real life, daily. The verisimilitude pulls us in, despite a slow start a monologue in which the victim gives a long preview of the tale. (Nowadays, dramas tend to have a fast-paced teaser opening to grab audiences.) More importantly, though, the film is Jamaican. We see and hear believable Jamaican characters in Jamaican settings, a picturesque variety of them — urban and rural, in the hills and on the seashore.
Carol Palmer, permanent secretary in the justice ministry and chair of the NATFATIP, said the film was commissioned following the screening of an Indian anti-trafficking film last year.
Although it was well-done, her staff said they wanted a Jamaican one and she agreed. Before Calvert was brought in, however, Palmer said she pushed her anti-trafficking message via the radio programme Balancing Justice and a dub poem which she had theatre practitioner Randy McLaren compose.
Calvert said that although Rescue is his first film, as a minister of religion, he frequently addresses audiences in Jamaica and abroad on social issues, often using storytelling as a communication technique.
He said he honed his writing and performance skills through JCDC competitions and "on the Pouyatt's verandah." He was referring to the weekly Saturday brunches at their home that the Pouyatts have been holding over many years for theatre practitioners and friends.
As producer, he picked an excellent cast. The principal actors included Paris-Michelle Barrett-Powell and Randy Stewart. Barrett-Powell played the role of the victim who was trafficked by the character played by Stewart. Latoya Johnson and Delroy Johnson also played major roles.
The film's dramatic story alternates with interviews with real people, one being Palmer. Viewers heard that a major reason for the continuation of human trafficking in Jamaica is the culture of silence, with people seeing suspicious activity but not reporting it to the police.
Editor's note: This story has been update to reflect the fact that Paris-Michelle Barrett-Powell and Randy Stewart were the principal actors.