By Sharon Gordon new york: While in New York for what was deemed a whirlwind visit, right in time for the start of Black History Month/Reggae Month 2012, filmmaker Justine Henzell sat down to speak about her “passion project”, the One People: Out Of Many, One Documentary in an exclusive interview with The Gleaner. “As a proud and patriotic Jamaican, I felt I had to do something to celebrate the fiftieth,” she offered. “No matter where you go in the world reggae has gotten there, Jamaica has gotten thereÉthat fact has made me proud and I felt that we needed to document that.” The documentary is a celebration of Jamaicans global reach and how that came to be. “We are known for our sports, our music and our food but there are Jamaicans doing things in other fields all over the world,” she remarked, “excelling in their fields at the highest levels.” Henzell quickly added, “Yes, we sing, we can run faster than anyone else, but we are brain surgeons and heart surgeons, we are leading economists, jurists and judges, everywhere you go you find Jamaicans excelling at the highest level.” In a moment of reflection, she says she is reminded that her friend Colin Channer likes to say that, “Jamaicans achieve what we do because we have no sense of scale. No one told us we were not able to be the leading economist at Lloyds in London or the Chaplin of the House of Commons in London or to invent the first cardiac surgical simulator that is now being tested all over the world by heart surgeons. Nobody told us that, so we just went and did it.” Laughing she added, “I love that sense of audacity that we carry with us everywhere we go.” Her project itself is an audacious undertaking and Henzell spoke freely about the funding challenges her team faces with a project of this magnitude. Still she is undeterred. “The more you get into a project like this the more you learn and the more you are encouraged to do the work. Yes, the funding is little and none, but the enthusiasm you get from Jamaicans and their struggles, and how they have overcome their struggles...” That, she says, is enough to keep her going. Henzell formed the 1962 Production Company with Zachary Harding and teamed up with award-winning film maker, Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) who is the documentary’s executive producer to bring this project to life. Justine says they borrowed the concept of a “user submission” format from a project that MacDonald did in 2010 titled Life In A Day which was a successful YouTube documentary that was produced by MacDonald. “I knew that as film makers we did not have the resources to go and capture these experiences all over the world,” says Henzell. “We didn’t have the resources to capture every moment in Jamaica much less all over the world. The fact that anyone can submit their footage has really broadened the documentary’s ability to capture all these different one people moment.” Jamaicans and non Jamaicans are encouraged to visit the website, www.onepeopledocumentary.com and upload video or audio footage from their hand held or a camera phone. “It doesn’t matter,” says Henzell, “we are looking for folks to submit footage; it can be anything, a poem that they did when they were 12 years old at Festival; it can be a conversation with your grand children, whatever it is, it must be something that resonates with them, something that says I am Jamaican.” Henzell encourages folks to “play with it and send it in.” She asks that people send in “whatever memories you have, just be creative.” Henzell shares that because music and reggae are so important for Jamaicans, one of the exciting aspects is the collaborative score that is going to be a part of the documentary.” She is excited that “The incredible Sly and Robbie went in to the studio and created and donated an original drum and bass track to this project known as the One People Riddim.” She pointed out that, “Anyone, anywhere in the world can download the track sample it, speed it up, slow it down, add vocals, add instruments, and then upload it up to the site.” It’s the first time they have ever done this, she says and “We have gotten submissions from Brazil, Zimbabwe and Ibo Cooper formerly of Third World now at the Edna Manley College has an amazing group of students working on this track.” Another approach is to show Jamaica’s global reach and with a grant secured via the creative arm of PUMA, they were able to send five Jamaican film makers to Africa. “They gave us the air fare,” says Henzell, “so Asher has been to Ethiopia and returned saying that it was a life changing experience. Sarah Manley says she will never be the same again, after visiting South Africa and experiencing the largest rasta community in the world right there in Capetown.” Another film maker just sent a photo from Goire Island’s Door of No Return in Ghana while the others are in Senegal and Kenya. “We have gone back to the mother land with Rasta and Reggae and the incredible influence that Reggae has had on the motherland specifically South Africa,” says Henzell who also notes that the people of South Africa love reggae music and will never forget that it was the little island of Jamaica in 1970’s under Michael Manley’s leadership who were the first to impose sanctions against apartheid South Africa. She shares stories of receiving footage from a young Jamaican football (soccer) team of teenagers who are living in Austria and excelling far above their peers in the sport and receiving footage from a group of Jamaicans living in Dubai who hosted a beach party for Jamaicans living in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries. She speaks of interviewing London-based Levi Roots, who began making his jerk sauce at home in his kitchen with his wife and children and is now making Reggae Reggae Crisps among other condiments that are found on shelves throughout Great Britain. “Who knew?” she chuckles as she speaks of the Armenian Reggae band that also sent in their footage and the footage from folks who make a pilgrimage to a statue of Bob Marley erected in Serbia. “We are not perfect but we have a lot to celebrate and we should,” says Justine Henzell whose father, the late Perry Henzell gave Jamaica its first full length feature film in 1972: “The Harder They Come” starring Jimmy Cliff. She says she is very conscious that she is carrying on work that people began a long time ago and it is for that reason she came to New York to visit with the inimitable Harry Belafonte, world renowned actor and human rights activists. Also known as the “King of Calypso” Belafonte was the first person to sell a million copies of an album in the United States. The album, Calypso, released in 1953 was the first of its kind and introduced the American audience to calypso music. Belafonte’s mother was Jamaican and though he was born in Harlem he was sent to live in Jamaica with his grandmother from 1932 to 1940. His story will be among the many that will appear on the final 90 minute documentary that is One People: Out of Many, One Documentary. This project has been endorsed officially as a Jamaica ‹ 50 event. One People: Out of Many, One Documentary is scheduled to be released on August 6, 2012 in Kingston, New York City, Toronto and London.