Sun | Dec 15, 2019

JAFTA Block to showcase three films at Cinema Paradise

Published:Monday | October 28, 2019 | 12:20 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
From left: Film director Kurt Wright; JAFTA board member, actress and producer Noelle Kerr; Jamaica’s Honorary Consul for Sweden, Peter Goldson; producer Saeed Thomas; and executive producer Julio Dawkins.
From left: Film director Kurt Wright; JAFTA board member, actress and producer Noelle Kerr; Jamaica’s Honorary Consul for Sweden, Peter Goldson; producer Saeed Thomas; and executive producer Julio Dawkins.

Local film buffs have much to get excited about. The upcoming instalment of Cinema Paradise 2019, more affectionately known as Portie Film Festival, will feature a diverse collection of brand-new short films, facilitated by the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA). Considering the concerted efforts of local players to bring attention to local film-making talent – through acts like dispatching delegations to film festivals across Europe and the Americas – JAFTA President Analisa Chapman believes that this collection indicates some success.

“This mix of films represents the strong reach of Jamaica’s creative voices, the projects that have come out of collaborations between Jamaica and our diaspora, and the immense potential for Jamaica’s emerging film industry that can arise out of these connections,” she said.

This Cinema Paradise edition of the JAFTA Block will mark the local premiere of three shorts – Cross My Heart, Jerk and Ladies Day.

Cross My Heart is written and directed by Jamaican-American Sontenish Myers, and produced by Elizabeth Charles. It was included in Refinery29’s list of The Most Exciting Woman-Directed Films at 2018’s Palm Springs Shortfest. It also won the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film’s Jamaican cast includes young talent Jhada Ann Walker and John Chambers, Earle Brown and Dorothy Cunningham.

Jerk is written and directed by British-Jamaican Raine Allen-Miller and produced by Ellie Fry. It was the last film of the late Jamaican-British actor and performer Clarence Miller, better known as Count Prince Miller, born in Port Maria, Portland.

Ladies Day, written and directed by Abena Taylor-Smith and produced by Loran Dunn, is a multi-award-winning short film. It was nominated for Best British Short (2018) at the BAFTA-qualifying Iris Prize Film Festival. With roots in Westmoreland, emerging talent Taylor-Smith’s short was supported by the National Film and Television School UK and Disney UK.

The premier films will be accompanied by two others. Unspoken (2019), an adaptation of the novel The Bed Head by Jennifer Grahame, has screened at the Black Star International Film Festival in Ghana, the French Riviera Film Festival in Cannes, and the Oscar-qualifying Urban World Film Festival. It was written and directed by Danae Grandison and produced by Carleene Samuels. Grandison is currently developing her first feature-length script set to be shot in Kingston. The final reel to be screened is Masterminds, starring Noelle Kerr, Akeem Mignott and Leonie Forbes.

“We laud the support of the Portie Film Festival organisers in showcasing the independent works of local talents across the globe and in supporting JAFTA’s efforts to highlight Jamaican work and talents, facilitating opportunities for industry development,” Chapman said. The screenings will be followed by a question-and-answer segment with some of the featured film-makers and cast, including Sontenish Myers, Elizabeth Charles, Abena Taylor-Smith, Kurt Wright and Noelle Kerr.

Steady on the path, Chapman revealed that Kerr is currently in Sweden as a JAFTA representative at the Upsala Film Festival. There, the JAFTA-Jamaica Now! segment will be a form of cultural exchange and focus on films from Jamaica and the diaspora, highlighting social issues with themes ranging from abuse to tolerance. The films being screened are Cross My Heart, Learning to Swim, Sea People, Kinto, Unspoken (2016), Haven and Flight.

The screening took place last Saturday and was followed by a reggae after-party put on by the Uppsala Reggae Festival.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com