'Kingston Paradise' wins Pan African Film Festival award
Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer
Mary Wells' feature film, Kingston Paradise has earned the 2014 Festival Programmer's Award for Narrative Feature at the 22nd annual Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF) held on Saturday at the PAFF Filmmaker's Lounge in Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw Plaza, California.
The film was earning its second award in a matter of months as it also won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2013 CaribbeanTales Film Festival in Toronto last September.
On Saturday, Kingston Paradise beat films from South Africa and the United States to cop the award for narrative feature.
Wells, an independent director, writer and producer wrote and directed the film which highlights a couple's struggle to escape the harsh realities of the ghetto.
The film epitomises creativity as it follows the lives of Rocksy (played by Christopher 'Johnny' Daley), a small-time hustler, and his girlfriend Rosie (Camille Small), masterminds behind a plot to steal a sports car.
Their plan to start life anew with the money earned from selling the lavish vehicle goes awry and they are left to face the consequences of their actions.
The 83-minute film made its United States debut on Valentine's Day, screening at the Rave Cinema in Los Angeles over the weekend, with the final showing taking place on Monday.
Daley told The Gleaner he was blessed to be part of Kingston Paradise.
"I really enjoyed the approximately six weeks of shooting. It was not at all easy having to deal with all that can occur while shooting on the border of Southside and Tel Aviv downtown, but it has paid off tremendously," he said.
He went on to thank the organisers of the PAFF for accepting and rewarding the film and gave high praises to its director, Mary Wells, for overcoming major financial obstacles to see the success of the film.
"Mary deserves a lot of praise for fighting for this film despite all of the challenges, the biggest, of course, being funding, a challenge she still has. But I must say how very proud I am of this little but talawah project."
Following the announcement, fans took to the film's official Facebook page to offer congratulatory comments with many expressing their support for Wells and her latest effort to put Jamaica's film industry in the international spotlight.
One commenter posted, "CONGRATS Mary it's so deserving. I can't wait to see Kingston Paradise."
The Kingston Paradise team also took to the Facebook page yesterday to express gratitude to all their supporters.
"We did it!! Kingston Paradise won at #PAFF2014 Festival Programmer's Award - Narrative Feature. It was a wonderful festival, much thanks to everyone involved," ran a post from the team.
The Pan African Film Festival is one of the largest and most prestigious black film festivals in the United States.
It was founded in 1992 by award-winning Hollywood actor, Danny Glover.