Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Nanny film to be shown in Rio

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMJanelle Oswald
Gloria Simms as Queen Nanny.
Jamaican Maroons still engage in the art of drum making.
African Rituals being re-enacted.
Roy Anderson doing a cameo as a slave soldier.

As Jamaica's top female athletes prepare to proudly fly the island's flag in Brazil, will another heroine emerge?

Representing Jamaica for the first time, Queen Nanny will also be making her home run on the sunny shores of Rio, where a documentary on her life will debut at the official Jamaican House, enabling countless tourists and Brazilians to learn about the life and legacy of her epic reign in Jamaica.

Growing in popularity at film festivals throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, the film Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftess has successfully been shown in five continents, including various countries in Africa, and also saw an exclusive screening with the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme.

Proud of the film's accomplishments, writer/director/producer Roy Anderson tells The Gleaner: "I am not after awards; I am just trying to get this film out to the world to educate and inspire the masses, especially women. This film is about womanhood and also about the weak up against the strong. Nanny represents the David and Goliath syndrome."

Of his inspiration behind the 59-minute film, Anderson said, "I was inspired to create the film about 10 years ago after I began working on a genealogy project. Wanting to know more about my roots, I remembered my grandfather telling me, 'We came from up so', meaning we were Maroons. And although I initially never paid attention to my family history, I became wiser as I got older, developing a strong ancestral calling. I wanted to know more about who I was, so in the midst of this project, up sprung the inspiration of a larger idea," he said.

Anderson continued, "My first film was called Akwantu: The Journey, which illustrated my experience showcasing a general history of the Maroons. I decided to dedicate a film exclusively to Nanny because everybody kept asking, 'What's next?'"

"Motivated by the demand, I chose to focus on Nanny being the only female national hero. Plus, if you ask any Jamaican to name a Maroon, Nanny is the name that is always shouted out."


Catching bullets


Anderson told The Gleaner: "I also discovered there were so many things which needed to be unearthed, such as the legend of her catching the bullets with her backside," he laughed.

"When folks talk about Nanny, they don't talk about what she accomplished in the hills and the real challenges she was up against with the British in the mountains, nor her limited resources, having no food, trying to keep her people healthy and alive. I wanted to share her untold story," he stressed.

"The first thing, Nanny was a living person, she was not a myth. I wanted to make Nanny human. I wanted to humanise her. I wanted to present her as a historical person adding to the academic discourse," the film-maker explained.

Anderson said he wanted to make sure people knew Nanny was deserving of her honour and there is evidence that she 100 per cent existed.

The York University, Toronto graduate said it was not his intention to be a film-maker, but having been in the entertainment industry for 31 years as a stunt man/coordinator and actor, he was able to observe some of the top film-makers in the world.

The St Elizabeth native, who left Jamaica at age 11, has been a stunt double for Hollywood actors Will Smith, Jamie Fox, Mario Van Peebles, Tyrese Gibson and Morgan Freeman.

The Toronto resident is hoping to tell the story of Marcus Garvey because many people have told it, but his will not be the definitive story.

"What I am aiming to do is humanise the man. I will be telling the story through the eyes of his youngest son, Dr Julius Garvey. He will be walking in the footsteps of his famous father. I'm hoping to re-enact Garvey's journey through America, Canada, South America and the UK."

Garvey preached the 'Back to Africa' movement with the Black Star Liner, but he was not able to set foot in the Motherland himself; I would like to document his son doing that. That will be a really powerful moment."