Mon | Nov 23, 2020

Prendergast embarks on all-island film tour

Published:Thursday | August 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Donisha Prendergast

The big question for most film-makers is how to get it distributed. The majority of local box office sales are generated from importing primarily Hollywood films in local theatres.

Last November, Lennie Little-White presented the idea of bolstering interest in locally made films by executing an all-island tour for the release of his feature-length comedy called It's A Family Affair. Though the progress of Little-White's comedy appears halted, a young film-maker has decided to try her hand at shopping around an engrossing, educational and geographically expansive production.

This time around, the film is a documentary called RasTa: A Soul's Journey.

RasTa: A Soul's Journey intends to explore the roots, evolution and global impact of Rastafari, through the eyes and experiences of Bob Marley's first grandchild, Donisha Prendergast. The film-maker travelled to eight countries to document the presence and practices of Rastafari communities across the globe. "It took us as far as Japan," Donisha Prendergast told The Sunday Gleaner. "Now we're travelling around the world to show it.

"Being the eldest of my generation, I took the journey very seriously. It showed me how Rastafari and reggae music were being studied, and not even just by us," she said.

After capturing the movements of small Rastafari settlements in Jamaica, the film moved into the metropolitan cities of Washington (US), Toronto (Canada), London (UK), Mumbai (India), Tel Aviv (Israel), Cape Town (South Africa), and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).


Inspire local action


Prendergast had no reservation in sharing one takeaway from the immersive experience, which she hopes will inspire local action. "Rastafari has many different mansions and sometimes there demands clarity - which mansion do you represent. You find that because of the different cultural practices of certain mansions, there's a problem. When I went to South Africa, in a place called Knysna, all the mansions of Rastafari live in the same community, existing within the scope of their practices, and nobody impeded on anybody else and there was no judgement. They ate from the same farms, and drank the same water.

In Jamaica, we don't have a lot of spaces that Rastafari can reside as a community, and the land in Knysna was granted by the South African government after apartheid. Hopefully, the government will realise the hypocrisy that exists right now."

In addition to attempting an islandwide tour, another of Prendergast's hopes for the film is to get the opportunity to screen in police stations and corporate spaces.

"Obviously schools, but I think those other places are very important too. We find that Rastafari comes into contact with the system very often and are often misunderstood. I think it would be valuable to have conversations with police officers about the history of Rastafari and how [it] is perceived internationally. It may just stimulate a little more respect and how we are dealt withand in corporate spaces similarly," Prendergast told The Sunday Gleaner.

The documentary's current distribution model was employed because previous plans fell through, but the production team has carried on relentlessly. "The model that we had first anticipated never really worked out the way we had hoped. It created another opportunity, it gave us more insight into the fact that maybe we won't get this documentary on to as many screens as we'd hoped, but that doesn't mean the message isn't important enough to bring it to the people." According to Prender-gast, after some social-media promotion, people started reaching out to enquire about local screenings. "It's created an opportunity for us to build community with this film," she said.

The film tour will continue, making its first seven stops in St Andrew, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, Hanover, St James, St Ann, and Portland.