Tue | Jul 23, 2019

'Run Free' a documentary filmed from the heart

Published:Tuesday | November 27, 2018 | 12:15 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Lesley-Ann Welsh of Manifesto, Jamaica wants to spread the message of the film.
Cast of Run Free Jamaica: A documentary.
Simon Sharkey(left) associate director of National Theatre of Scotland listens to remarks being made by Olayinka Jacob-Bonnick, director of British Council, Jamaica.
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When Manifesto Jamaica landed in Parade Gardens, neither the group or the 11 young men who became apart of the programme knew how much their lives would change.

A home grown non-profit organisation that uses arts and culture to propel young people to being their best, Manifesto partnered with the British Council and the National Theatre of Scotland, with the goal of empowering the young men. Their journey began in 2014 with the rigours of rehearsals the essence of the documentary getting the young men to use a French concept known as Parkour or running free. In Scotland it is called The Jump- the technique allows the participants to literally jump over obstacles together, breaking free to tell their stories.

But like all true drama, there are disappointments, and deaths along the way. These experiences provided the extra fuel for the young men to tell their stories. Then they were invited to perform on the big stage of the National Theatre of Scotland, in 2017.

This is the story of Run Free: A Documentary, which premiered on Friday at the Serengeti, located at the Hope Zoo, St Andrew.

Run Free, is dedicated to the memories of two members of the group -Chaddie and Squiddly, who lost their lives to the violence in their community.

The film opens with an eye catching panoramic shot of the city, and gradually zooms in on Fleet Street in Parade Gardens. On display are photos of Chaddie Squiddly is speaking highly of his friend. That was one of the most powerful scenes in the film a year later Squiddly's voice too was silenced.

When Jamaicans tell their stories there is sure to be humour, and so it was in Run Free. A witty moment comes when a few of the young men adopt a British accent after receiving their visas, and later - their reaction to the cold weather in Scotland.

Boldly written subtitles make it easy for those not familiar with the Jamaican or Scottish accents to follow the dialogue. The film is also a powerful testimony of perseverance, character building, family and relationships.

Simon Sharkey, Associate Director of National Theatre of Scotland, in making his remarks said, "it [the film] helps young people understand the future of their own possibility."

Lesley-Ann Welsh of Manifesto said that they have received confirmation that the Glasgow Film Festival of Scotland wants to screen it in 2019. "We are open to film festivals, schools, community centers, anywhere this kind of content that speaks to growth, community building, personal development or any space willing to welcome this story we are happy to share it with them."