Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Creator wants ‘Joseph’ to bridge gap between Africa, diaspora

Published:Wednesday | February 19, 2020 | 12:17 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Young Jamaican actor Kevoy Burton (left, foreground) on the set of ‘Joseph’ with co-star Ghanian actor Mawuli Gavor.
Young Jamaican actor Kevoy Burton (left, foreground) on the set of ‘Joseph’ with co-star Ghanian actor Mawuli Gavor.

Coming soon … Jamaicans will finally get to see Joseph, the emotional, transnational feature starring Jamaican actors Kevoy Burton and Christopher McFarlane, Ghanian actor Mawuli Gavor, and Barbadian entertainers Alison Hinds ( Roll It Gal) and Shontelle Layne ( T-Shirt). Filmed in all the lead cast’s respective nations, director and co-writer of the movie Marcia Weekes intends the film to be a catalyst for creating a bridge between Africa and its very large diaspora.

Though inspired, Weekes’ aspiration has come at a great cost, as some of the crew have yet to be fully compensated.

Joseph is a film about a young Jamaican doctor with roots in Maroon Town who dreams of returning to Ghana, back to the Ashanti kingdom. Layered with issues of prejudice between pharmaceutical treatments and ‘bush’ medicine, Joseph is a heartening tale of family, history and dismantling misconceptions about African lifestyle.

Among the local premiere audience was the Nigerian high commissioner, who praised Weekes’ efforts, before aptly declaring there’s a lot of talk in the Caribbean but little action. “We need to put our money where our heart is. I hope viewers will take cues from the film, to follow your dreams and not allow Western media to dictate to you what Africa should be,” she said.

With the example of Nollywood – a bustling industry – thriving despite not having a Studio City like Hollywood, the commissioner highlighted that a majority of work is filmed in real people’s homes, hospitals or offices. “We use what we have,” she said

Taking on the Nollywood approach, Weekes used what she had – a crew willingly to work for eventual pay.

Overdue bills

Though the film has hit some big screens around the world, there are still some overdue bills on the books. To the cast and crew, she said, “We want to say thanks for your patience, as some of you are still waiting for the full remuneration of your services. We could not have a movie to show without your contribution.”

According to Weekes, Palace Amusement has agreed to run the film. The opening day will be announced soon. “We need bodies. We need Jamaicans to come out and support. We don’t have a big budget, we have a big heart. And I have to pay these people. I’m asking you to help us so we can help them. This is their livelihood,” Weekes said.

Joseph is currently on show in Barbados, and will soon end its run in West Africa.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com