EndRapeCulture JA Partners with Watooka Films for CinéSips film festival
For many women, taking public transportation to and from work daily can be an anxiety-riddled experience, and something as simple as a Saturday night out socialising can easily turn into a situation of sexual harassment or assault.
For this reason, local advocacy group EndRapeCulture JA has partnered with regional production house Watooka Films to bring to light the extent of gender-based violence and women’s issues in Jamaica ahead of the inaugural staging of their upcoming CinéSips film festival.
Promising ‘an evening of cocktails and film’, the event, which will be held this Thursday, September 29, at the Senior Common Room on The University of the West Indies Mona campus, will feature Watooka Films’ latest creative work in the horror genre titled Nice Lady. It will show alongside three other locally produced short films aiming to educate the public about rape culture, misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.
Speaking about the event, Shanique Palmer, founder of EndRapeCulture JA, spoke of the importance of the festival. “This partnership is important because sexual violence has to end. We women are tired of it,” said Palmer. She continued: “About a year and a half ago, I committed to posting on my personal Instagram page daily posts educating my followers about sexual violence because of an experience I had. I decided to do this on the heels of the disappearance of Khanice Jackson,” said Palmer. “I’m sure many remember her tragic story – the public was outraged, and it was a heavy time for women generally in Jamaica.”
What resulted soon after Palmer’s posts was surprising to her. “You would not believe the outpouring that I got and continue to get in my inbox from women who are survivors of rape. These are friends, acquaintances, and even strangers - all in my inbox - just pretty much venting and telling me their stories of assault and abuse. Many of them are currently battling depression and constant thoughts of suicide, but they show up every day looking normal, and you’d never know.”
Nice Lady tells a story about an ancient spirit that “preys on the souls of women and possesses men in the darkest part of their hearts”. The urban supernatural horror follows the female lead character, Ally, played by popular actress and former entertainment TV personality Pepita Little, as she becomes the target of the evil Kanaima. The film received critical praise and favourable reviews when it premiered earlier this year at GATFFEST, having been partially funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund.
Watooka Films’ founder and director Kaiel Eytle said: “My inspiration to do this film – and now this film festival – came when a brave friend of mine chose to come forward on social media to share her real-life story. Through that story, and others since, I learned about the trauma that comes with the harassment that women face in our society daily. We wanted to showcase this in the movie so that persons can truly understand how it feels for women.”
As one of Jamaica’s newest anti-sexual violence non-governmental organisations, EndRapeCulture JA utilises public education and behaviour-change programmes to effect major changes in attitudes and policies locally.
Speaking to the future, Palmer plans to deliver a tech-based solution at various education levels and in the workplace as she believes that it will help target the root of the problem. She said: “We have a strong rape culture in Jamaica, and it’s because a lot of misogynistic behaviours from men don’t get called out. And sexual misconduct continues to happen since a lot of males don’t understand the basic concept of consent as they were never taught that in sex-ed classes or by their parents. That’s why we’re placing great focus on education and awareness.”
To purchase festival tickets and support the initiative, visit watookafilms.com. Proceeds from the evening will support EndRapeCulture JA and other such initiatives.