August Town to pilot film festival
Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Historic but violence-tainted August Town will host its own film festival next summer.
Professor Ian Boxill and S. Carlton Alexander, chair of the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies, revealed the festival was an expansion of the Greater August Town Film Project, a project where two short films were made by community members this year.
One was a documentary on the community titled August Town Tells A Story, showing various aspects of the place, from subsistence farming, to shoemaking, and the music of reggae singer Etana, who hails from there. The other film was the movie Fast Lane, about a race-car deal gone bad.
The project is part of the Centre for Tourism Policy Research's community outreach component. Professor Boxill explained the initial fascination with August Town was its proximity to the campus and its potential for community tourism. Centre staff and interns talked with the youth of the area to get ideas on how to proceed.
"If you read the (August Town's) history, it's a remarkable place," he said.
"We decided to try to let them tape their stories, because they were very concerned about how they were perceived."
Five young people went through a five-day course to learn the art of film-making with Bob Harris, who was very impressed with the talent he saw. The resulting pieces were shown both at the UWI, and in August Town. The overwhelming positive response prompted the idea for the film festival.
"To do this, we will get people within the community who are interested in learning and we'll put them through a six-week, intensive programme," he said. After that, the centre will help them develop the films for public showing. Melissa Tulloch, project coordinator, said the organisation hoped to start training in this second cohort of the programme this week. An introductory session takes place on Thursday.
Harris will again be the main tutor, but guest speakers like actor/playwright Keiran King will stop by.
Tulloch said the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication will also be offering assistance, but the organisation is still seeking funding for equipment and other material.
She described the six-week course as very intensive, with the students covering everything from conceptualising and storyboarding, to learning the intricacies of the film industry.
More than 20 students have been selected and they will be placed in different groups. Tulloch said organisers are aiming to get five, 15-minute films out of the project.
All the students hail from August Town, as the project is community based. The hope is to make it an annual festival.
"We have a lot of plans for the community. We want to use this to attract people to the community," she said.
"And, of course, we want to generate income and opportunities for August Town. Anything is possible."