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Cinema Paradise 2019 shines from Trench Town to Portland 1 2 shines from Trench Town to Portland 2 19 9

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:22 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Patrons enjoying themselves at one of the screenings at Cinema Paradise Portie Film Festival 2018.
Patrons enjoying themselves at one of the screenings at Cinema Paradise Portie Film Festival 2018.

The weekend of Friday, November 1, to Sunday, November 3 promises to be a paradisal one as Cinema Paradise Portie Film Festival 2019 projects from screens in the throbbing city of Kingston and the verdant parish of Portland. It will be three exquisite nights in the birthplace of reggae and the (Port) land of films.

The screen will drop at the historic Ambassador Theatre (aka ‘The Bass’) in the heart of Trench Town on Friday, November 1. On it, Babylon, regarded as one of the best reggae films ever made, will open the festival, now in its ninth year.

Hailed by New York Times, Forbes, and Rolling Stone magazine, Franco Russo’s Babylon (circa 1980) finally made its American debut earlier this year at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

According to Vivene Levison, festival chair and director, and co-owner of Great Huts, producers of the festival, Gabriele Caroti, former director at BAMCinemaFest in New York, will be introducing the film at the highly anticipated opening,which will be bringing “uptown to downtown through an easy shuttle service from the Liguanea Club in New Kingston to Trench Town”.

Exploring the themes of ambition, creativity, struggle , Levison said, “the film does not shy away from the social injustice experienced by Caribbean youths and the dramatic roots reggae scene in the Thatcher era in London”. It stars Brinsley Forde, founder of Aswad, and tells the story of a group of young black men in Brixton, a working-class neighbourhood, as they prepare for a ‘sound system’ competition.

“After premiering in Cannes, France, 40 years ago, the current resurgence will soon be celebrated on cultural sacred ground, the actual site of the birthplace of reggae,” Levison said.

Back in the day, at The Bass, during the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, aspiring performers would show what they had in front of talent scouts for music pioneers, such as Duke Reid and Coxson Dodd. After the screening On November 1, JAMPRO Film Commissioner Renée Robinson will lead a panel discussion, featuring Brinsley Forde, screenwriter Martin Stellman and veteran music producer Junior Lincoln.

Sunset screening

From Trench Town to Portland, all roads lead to a sunset screening of Storm Saulter’s Sprinter at Goblin Hill Villas on the Saturday. Saulter, actress Shantol Jackson, and other notables from the film, are expected to participate in the ensuing discussion to be moderated by Dahlia Harris. There will also be a discussion on the history of cinema in Jamaica at Kanopi House.

The screen goes up on the Sunday, following JAFTA Block, a special curated segment from the Jamaica Film and Television Association at Great Huts Resort Paradise on the Edge at Boston Bay. The series of Jamaican short films will also include the Jamaican diaspora, “whose stories will range from addressing social impact issues to a fun take on the world on some heist masterminds”.

Prior to the screening, Jah 9 will be at Great Huts leading Yoga on Dub.

The Gleaner is a major sponsor of Cinema Paradise Portie Film Festival 2019. Tickets go on sale from October 5, and more about the festival may be gleaned at