Jamaican movie crosses language boundaries
Erin Hansen, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaican film Better Mus' Come made waves on overseas shores last weekend, with its premiere in Spanish subtitles at the Festival De Cine Global Dominicano film festival in the Dominican Republic.
Yvetta Marischal, director of Festival De Cine, was intrigued by the positive response Better Mus' Come was having in Jamaica and wanted to include the film in the Dominican festival.
Director of the film, Storm Saulter, was given a special invitation to present the film by the Dominican president, Leonel Fernandez, a major supporter and backer of the festival.
Saulter, who met with the president during the screening, spoke candidly with him about Jamaican political history and encouraged President Fernandez to continue supporting the arts throughout the Caribbean.
Saulter told The Gleaner Spanish subtitles were done by his partner Michelle Serieux and Dolby Digital to prepare for the film festival. "We always intended to put the film in Spanish subtitles but this festival is what really pushed us to get them down."
This year marks the fourth instalment of the film festival, which brought out key players and industry mavens from large-scale studios such as Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures (the studio that produced blockbusters Spider-Man and 300) and actors Benicio DelToro and Zoe Saldana from the film Avatar.
The festival took place in six towns across the nation with Better Mus' Come showing twice, once in Puerta Plata on Saturday night and again in Santo Domingo on Sunday.
"I wasn't really sure what the reception would be to a Spanish-speaking audience, if a story of Jamaican history would cross over," said Storm from the phone in the Dominican Republic.
But the reception was excellent and the viewing in Puerto Plaza provoked an audience of industry people, locals and film students to stand and applaud at the film's end.
A question-and-answer session following the film suggested that the audience had made a connection between the culturally specific political conflicts of the film to their own history of political controversies in the Dominican Republic, as Storm noted that many of the Dominican viewers were curious about the political setting of Better Mus' Come during Cold War era policy.
"It was very inspiring," said Storm about his experience.
"I was surprised not only at how good the response was, but also the scale of the festival."
President Fernandez has been a strong advocate for technological development and promotion of the film industry in the Dominican Republic. He most recently helped to get a new law enacted that would supply major incentives for those interested in filming and producing in the Dominican Republic.
Festival organisers have encouraged Saulter to return and do workshops with young Dominican filmmakers, a relationship Saulter sees worth investing in.
"I definitely see something in the future with Dominican Republic," he said, already planning an acting workshop with Better Mus' Come lead actor, Roger Guenveur Smith.