Film festival's 'best of' event piques interest
Garfene Grandison, Gleaner Writer
Saturday saw the launch of the Jamaica Reggae Film Festival 2012 at RedBones Blues Café in New Kingston. The event celebrated last year's award winners with the theme: The Best of the Reggae Film Festival 2011.
Carl Bradshaw, chairman of the Jamaica Film Academy, also heralded this year's event, scheduled for April 17-21.
The selections from last year's winners were screened in the Movie Garden of RedBones Blues Café. These selections included: Mustapha Khan's Rocksteady, which won last year's Best International Film award; and Steven Riley's Fire in Babylon, a brilliant documentary which snagged the Best Documentary and Outstanding Film awards at last year's show. Man Free, 2010's Best Documentary winner, directed by Kinsey Beck with comments by Perry Henzell, was also among the films shown that night.
Attendees also viewed selections from the 'Make a Film in 24 Hours' competition.
Part of the night's screenings was the latest episode from Reinardo 'Mental' Chung's popular series, Dutty Bwoy. Chung wowed judges last year with Bad Influence - an eight-minute 3D computer-animated film which took home the Digicel Animation Award.
Animation has always been a field of interest for Chung, especially 3D animation. It was this interest that prompted him to learn the art of animation and also gave him the zeal to practise and hone his craft.
His series, Dutty Bwoy, has become an online sensation. It focuses on dancehall culture and also features animated versions of dancehall celebrities. The series is about three "street youths" who always seem to find themselves in some humorous situations with different dancehall artistes.
Chung described the response from both corporate Jamaica and the wider public as simply "tremendous".
He said that the feedback has been great and he has even received scripts from fans for future episodes. Chung is grateful for the Reggae Film Festival, as he believes it is increasing the awareness about films being made in Jamaica and the filmmakers who produce them.
He believes that the Jamaican film industry has the potential to become an international phenomenon, much like our music.
Gaining a bit of viewership in January on Flow's channel 100 which led to a small following was the miniseries, Red, Amber, Green, written, directed and produced by young actor, model and dancer Christopher Byfield.
Byfield is no stranger to the set. He's been involved in the filming process since the tender age of 16.
"It has been a journey," he emphasised. He shared about making the transition from in front of the camera to behind it. Byfield entered the Reggae Film Festival's 'Make a Film in 24 hours' competition last year with a film titled What I Am ... What I Became ... What I Remain, which placed third.
Red, Amber, Green is Byfield's debut film from his company Christopher Byfield Films. He, too, believes that the Reggae Film Festival has increased awareness of films and filmmakers in Jamaica.
He believes it is a great avenue for filmmakers to premiere their work and believes it plays an integral part in the development of the Jamaican film industry.
According to a correspondence, "Saturday's show was just the beginning of the vibrant cultural line-up that the Jamaica Film Academy has planned for April's staging of the 2012 Reggae Film Festival, where there will be a guest screening of an international film starring well-known Aca-demy Award-winning actors and actresses."