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Filmmakers from 28 countries for UWI’s GATFEST

Published:Sunday | May 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Fayval Williams (right), shares in a conversation with Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company, Dr. Andrew Spencer (left), and Director of the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Tourism and Policy Research and Chairman of the GATFFEST Film Festival, Professor Ian Boxill. Occasion was the launch of GATFFEST on May 11 at the UWI Mona Campus in St Andrew.

Film-makers from 28 countries will join local talent in showcasing their work in various genres at the 2017 staging of the University of the West Indies' (UWI) GATFFEST film festival.

Scheduled to be held from June 15 to 24 under the theme 'From the Streets to the Screen,' the event will feature workshops and screenings of films in the areas of drama, comedy, action, sci-fi, documentary, animation and suspense. It is being organised by the UWI Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.

Participants will compete for awards in 14 categories, including directing, screenplay, cinematography, local film, international film, animated film, young filmmaker, viewers choice, and others.

Countries that will be taking part include Columbia, India and Japan, whose local embassies are among the sponsors of the event.




Other international entries will come from Malaysia, Afghanistan, Spain, Israel, Tanzania, Germany, United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

At the launch, held on May 11 at the UWI Mona Campus in St Andrew, chairman of GATFFEST Professor Ian Boxill said the 10-day festival has attracted some 1,600 entries.

He said the event was introduced in 2013 as the Greater August Town Film Festival to showcase films produced by graduates of the UWI community film project, providing an outlet for them to express themselves and to deal with issues in their communities.

The project offers training in film and video production for youth in underserved communities such as August Town, Nannyville, Mona Commons, Trench Town, Jones Town and Mountain View in Kingston and St Andrew, as well as Norwood, Canterbury, and Salt Spring in St James.




The event, hailed as the Caribbean's premier film festival, has since evolved to provide an opportunity to showcase new and emerging film-makers who are telling stories through a mix of short films and documentaries.

Boxill noted that while there has been an increase in the number of films produced in Jamaica, some of which have won awards locally and overseas, some film-makers have difficulty securing a spot in traditional media and in the movie theatres.

"GATFFEST is relevant in that it gives these filmmakers an outlet to secure an audience and showcase their work," he said.

Minister of state in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams, who addressed the launch, noted that the community film project has equipped over 100 young people with skills in basic film-making and production and that a number of them have gone on to start their own businesses.

"Our young people really need this programme to continue. It fills them with hope. It gives them something useful to do and gives them the opportunity to develop a skill. I encourage you to continue this worthwhile activity," she said.

Film showings will be held at several venues in Kingston and Montego Bay, where the festival will also be held. The Montego Bay launch will take place on May 18.

The film premiere for 2017 is Children of the Incursion, a documentary exploring the psychosocial impact of the 2010 Tivoli operation on the children who lived through the ordeal.