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NCU Highlights Student Achievement through Film Festival

Published:Saturday | April 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey
Some of the cast members of the film '8 AM' from the production company Awthentik Expressions that won best overall film. The president of Northen Caribbean University (centre) presenting to producer Monique Ingram, the cast members(from left) Roniel O'connor, Kevoy Burton, Marsha coombs, Kevani Ewers and Sushanie Hunter.

The Department of Communication Studies (DCS) at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has once again revolutionised the platform for showcasing talent and highlighting the achievements of students through the Lignum Vitae Film Festival. The sixth staging of the film festival, to be held this Sunday, April 12 at the University's Gymnatorium, will signal the growth of the initiative from a small screening held in a classroom, to a red-carpet affair entertaining some of the best from the local and international film industry.

"The glitz, glamour, tuxedos and exquisite gowns are just a foretaste of what attendees can expect this Sunday at the Lignum Vitae Film Festival. The organisers have promised to outdo themselves to make this staple commodity of the department a moment etched in time for Jamaica and the world to behold. Quite conveniently, the festival this year, carries the theme 'LEGACY: I Was Here', " expressed Public Relations Officer Ricardo Campbell.


primary focus


A brainchild of department lecturer Judith Ann Bodley and graduate Dwayne Sterling, the film festival commenced in 2009 with the primary focus of rewarding creativity through film production. Students were charged to fashion films in different categories, and winners were selected by a panel of adjudicators closely related to the film fraternity in Jamaica.

According to Campbell, "Renowned writer, director and producer, Lenny Little-White, headlines as chief judge this year, flanked by Kimala Bennett, Brian St Juste, Jason 'Jay Will' Williams and Dwayne Sterling. Entrants will be vying for numerous awards such as Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Overall Film, Best Script, Best Producer, Best Mobile Film, Best Trailer, Best Post-Production, Best Foley, Best Animation, Best Silent Film, and Best Short Film. In addition, there will be sectional prizes courtesy of Fontana Pharmacy, Dolphin Cove, and Prospect Outback Adventures, Essence of Beauty (Massage and Spa) and a mini internship at Digicel Sportsmaxx, and, for the very first time, there will be a special award presented by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission which will reward the film that personifies Jamaican creativity."


notable figures


He added, "This year's film festival has the blessings of noted Jamaican actor Paul Campbell, actress Shauna Chin, who has played roles in the Blackburns of Royal Palm Estate and the United States (US) syndicated series Criminal Minds; US actor, Atif Lanier, who has made appearances in Law and Order SVU; directors Chris Brownie; Tanya Taylor, and Storm Saulter who last year described the festival as 'a great platform for persons to showcase films'. "

Under the patronage of her worship the mayor of Mandeville, Brenda Ramsay, the stage will be set to host the star-studded cast of film enthusiasts, university and high-school students, entrepreneurs and noted dignitaries. As the only film festival of its kind at the tertiary level of education in Jamaica, several participants have alluded to its existence as a reason for their success.

"Ever since I can remember, I have been acting - from school plays to JCDC competitions, you name it. But since coming to NCU, I have been able to truly hone my talent. I acted in a film called 8 a.m. and won Best Actress last year, and to this date it has given me the motivation I need to act in several films by independent producers, and the platform to be recognised. I see myself on the international red carpet with big acts such as Lupita and Kimberly Elise in the near future," said mass communications student, Darriann Scott.

The department, which boasts some of the best media practitioners on the island, will also be unveiling their inaugural magazine, The Communicator. The magazine speaks to the successes of its students who have landed jobs at major media organisations islandwide and overseas, the cadre of present and past lecturers and the core essence of why DCS is said to be the 'premiere institution of choice for media studies' in the Caribbean."