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'This is Jamaica' goes away from the stereotype

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Scenes from the documentary 'This Is Jamaica'.-Contributed photos

British film-maker takes a look at the positives

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

While Jamaica makes the news for crime and violence, a struggling economy, and even allegations of assault against homosexuals, British film-maker Michael Lynch has set his sights on showing the positive elements of the country through his documentary, This Is Jamaica.

Over the course of a year, Lynch, who is of Jamaican descent, began work on a documentary about Jamaica.

"I was inspired to do a documentary while visiting Jamaica after the death of my parents (in 1989) and finally immigrating to Jamaica in 2000 from the UK. I grew up not hearing a lot about the country. The UK media always portrayed Jamaica in a negative light and always showed scenes of the downtown parts of Jamaica, which detracted me from even wanting to visit," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

Having lived in Jamaica for several years with his wife, in 2011, he said he decided to make the documentary, which he says highlights "the harmony amongst the different races and cultures, scenery, tourism and stories from Jamaican people".

Some of the places he went during the documentary are Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, St Elizabeth and parts of Kingston.

In a possible part two of This Is Jamaica, Lynch says he hopes to focus on the eastern and southern sections of Jamaica.

While he seems set to continue making documentaries, the task was a far cry from the music videos Lynch is accustomed to working on.

"Music videos are very quick, within a couple days you are done. A documentary is more extensive. It took quite a while to get everything together," he said, noting that he got assistance from Lenworth Brown and Taneisha Ingram.

Returning to the United Kingdom in 2012, he said the editing was done there. This Is Jamaica was eventually released on November 3 this year and is currently available for rental.

But, "my intention is to market this documentary on a big scale. I would like it to be shown throughout Jamaica and on an international level. This documentary has no barriers and is as suitable for children as it is for adults," he said.

And with the project, Lynch says he hopes "those living abroad, children and adults who have Jamaican heritage who have never travelled to the island and people on a whole who have only listened to one side of the story" will have a better understanding of Jamaica and its people.

So far, he said the response has been predominantly positive.

"It's still early days yet, but the people who have seen it enjoyed it. What they've heard is mostly bad news. They've never really known that side of Jamaica in terms of the beauty of the place and the people. It gives them a broad understanding of what Jamaica is. Overall, I've been getting really good feedback," Lynch told The Sunday Gleaner.