Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Lift Off! PROPELLA second cohort premieres at TTFF

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Having a good laugh (from left) Nile Saulter, Rob Maylor and Storm Saulter.
Sarah Manley
President of JAFTA Gabrielle Blackwood (left) and Film Commissioner Renee Robinson.
Franklyn St. Juste
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The cohort has been selected for the second reel of PROPELLA films.

On September 21, directors of the five short films selected for support by the three-way JAFTA, JAMPRO, and Chase Fund partnership premiered their works to the audience of this year's Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF).

While some familiar film players and stage names (like Tony 'Paleface' Hendricks) were included in the first, members of the second group already boast enviable accomplishments, making their TTFF premiere another rung on the ladder to filmmaking fame and fortune.

More familiar than the players and names are the film's subjects, which range from the frustrations of public transportation to the often exciting (occasionally dreadful) mango season.

"What is particularly exciting about this year is the dynamism of the local stories and anecdotes showcased, all very culturally apt and ingrained in our Jamaican roots and heritage," Gabrielle Blackwood, JAFTA president, said. She noted that the response to this year's initiative was overwhelming, both in the number of entries as well as the enthusiasm and contribution of the rest of the local film community.

The first of the lot is Sarah Manley, who graduated from assistant producer on the prize-winning documentary Life and Debt to being producer for the episodes filmed in Jamaica for America's Next Top Model's cycle 19. Now, in Manley's first foray into drama, she directed Code, a film that is "inspired by the idea of Rastafari as a noble and highly spiritual response to global injustice". By her interpretation, the imagery of Rasta as a noble warrior for good has been established in the collective consciousness by reggae music. Code stars Kaleb D'Aguilar, Carl Davis, and Ouida Lewis.

Second, directed by UWI film and screenwriting lecturer Danielle Russell, This City of Mine follows a young university graduate named Julia, who tries her hand at navigating Kingston's public transportation system as she sets out for her first day at work. Stylised as slightly surrealistic, main character Julia struggles to not only make it to work on time, but also has to decide on what course to take next. The lead is played by career actress Shanique Brown, who doubles her time as singer with the moniker GiRL. The film features the voice of iconic radio personality Alan Magnus.

 

UNLIKELY ELEMENTS

 

Mango Wars, written by Kyle Chin, is a comedy set in present day Kingston, Jamaica. It follows Mr Brown (Marlon Walker), who runs a mango jelly business with his pregnant wife (played by Camille Davis). Fed up with the theft of mangoes from his tree and stressed by the impending arrival of his first child, Mr Brown hatches an elaborate plan to snag the mango thief. But when all of the traps are set off by unlikely elements, Mr Brown has to rethink what really matters.

This fourth instalment, directed by former director of the Edna Manley College School of Drama Eugene Williams sees a young man entering a shop, and all he wants is one patty. Impatience causes him to make rash decisions and learn a valuable life lesson the hard way.

Throughout this lesson, the young man engages with someone older. In a rare occurrence, film professional Franklyn St Juste gets in front of the camera in a similar fashion as the wise onlooker.

Finally, Nile Saulter directs the drama of a solitary scrap metal collector, who must navigate his way back to the path of promise after disaster strikes. Those familiar with the recently released web series Losing Patience will recognise this film's lead, Jeff Crossley.

"JAFTA is also happy to have the CHASE Fund on board once again. The association intends to continue to expand on the JAFTA PROPELLA initiative, as well as continue to seek, foster, and develop film opportunities for our growing local film industry," Blackwood said.

JAMPRO's Film Commissioner, RenÈe Robinson, concurred, saying: "We received almost double the number of entries in this year's call for applications, and I am certain that in year three, we will enjoy even more growth and exposure to the local film industry. This type of talent discovery programme is very much in line with international strategic interventions, which hone and propel the careers of a specific annual cohort. In many cases, the short film is seen as a calling card, a proof of concept of what the filmmaker can achieve. Through this mechanism, we additionally populate a national catalogue of short films that we can then utilise for promotion of the capabilities of the film industry in Jamaica as a whole."

entertainment@gleanerjm.com