Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Renaissance Man, a documentary on the life of Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford, premiered last Thursday at the Carib Cinema Complex.
The documentary is a tapestry of creatively linked interviews with Nettleford, his friends and colleagues from academia and the dance fraternity.
The documentary, according to chairman of the Rex Nettleford Foundation, Sir Shirdath Ramphal, in his opening remarks, highlights the aim and purpose of Nettleford's life. And from all accounts, those who were on hand thought it was nicely produced.
Artistic director of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), Barry Moncrieffe, long-time friend and Nettleford's dance colleague, thought the documentary was well done, but believed "that there are things that could have been in".
"Other people could have been interviewed. People like his [Rex] secretary, Ms Morgan, who really knows him in and out. I thought she could have given him a human side because she has a lot of stories," he said.
trilogy of films
However, he admitted that "what we did not see here, you will get it in the other films".
The other films Moncrieffe speaks about are part of a project commissioned by the Rex Nettleford Foundation. Mediamix, led by film-maker Lennie Little-White, was awarded the project and has produced a trilogy of films.
But Brigit Spaulding, another co-founder of NDTC, thought that threading the dances between the interviews balanced the documentary.
"For the purposes, I think it is quite good. It is really more for his academic perspective. And he [Nettleford] has done so many things it is really difficult to do a documentary of 45 minutes and cover everything. You will always have those who say he has left out this, like, you have not seen enough of his humanity, and you have not seen enough of his international impact," she stated.
Written and directed by Little-White, the documentary opens with the song Bongo Man Ah Come, followed by the image of a lit torch and a picture of Nettleford.
Subsequently, it segues to excerpts of speeches given at the late professor's funeral service. Among the speakers were Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Bruce Golding and Professor Kenneth Baugh.
Professor Hilary Beckles and St Lucian Laureate Derek Walcott, former prime ministers P.J. Patterson and Edward Seaga were among the voices and faces that helped to provide an insight into the life of the man.
Interviews with Nettleford at different stages of his life, as well as photos from his early childhood provided background information as well as an insight into his views on hard work, poverty and blackness.
His humble beginnings, his success as a Rhodes Scholar and as the recipient of 18 doctorates was also on the radar. But in spite of the achievements, Nettleford describes himself as "I'm an ordinary man" who credits his achievements on the way he was socialised, and "that, in fact, the world turns on collaborative effort."
The must-see documentary for students of history and the art, especially, will also be premiered in Montego Bay before it goes to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, parts of the eastern Caribbean, London, Toronto and Europe.