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High expectations for low-budget Reggae Film Fest

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

Barbara Blake-Hannah, chairperson of the Reggae Film Festival, points to one of the films at the festival's launch at the Hilton Kingston hotel last Thursday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Barbara Blake-Hannah, chairperson of the Reggae Film Festival and head of the Jamaica Film Academy, is promising an exciting festival this year, despite her limited budget.

"With less than a shoestring budget, we have created an exciting calendar of events that will prove to be a marked improvement to the last staging," she said at the festival's launch last Thursday at the Hilton Kingston hotel. The festival will be held from February 25-27 at the Hilton.

"This year, we have expanded our categories of entries and will, for the first time, incorporate films made by Jamaicans that are non-reggae oriented, in an effort to embrace our growing community of talented film-makers," she continued.

Blake-Hannah added that the lack of funding from the state has been tough to accept.

"It is a hard pill to swallow when your own government hands millions to overseas acts, while our own home-grown talent lays waiting with open arms and worse, to no avail," she said. "I am not trying to breed bitterness because I am a sweet person at heart, but sometimes the truth is bitter."

Corporate sponsorship

She added: "Without our sponsors, the film festival wouldn't happen because we had no budget. Corporate citizens have contributed in whatever way they could, in kind and effort, to keep the festival alive."

Films will be shown in the Hilton Kingston's ballroom and the Jonkanoo Lounge. The seven sessions are Feature Films, Retrospective, Documentaries, Short Films, Make-A-Film-In-24-Hours, Red, Green and Gold Screen and Children's Day. More than 30 films, mostly Jamaican, will be shown throughout the festival.

Some of the productions that will be shown are Ruff n Tuff; Reggae in The Ruff; Skin; No, Not Me; Unsung; Lee Scratch Perry - Ich Sende Aus Dem All; Kapskilla; Kids Paradise-Shasta Runs Away; Natajsa; Man Free; Crunch and Under My Garden. In addition, there will be several films on the Red, Green and Gold Screen about Rastafarians.

Throughout the launch, the guests also got peeks at some of the films that will be shown. Wah Do Dem highlights the adventures of an American boy who gets lost in Jamaica after the cruise ship he arrived on left him. There was also Wing by Tony Hendriks, which is about a Jamaican drug mule in England. It was quite graphic and full of details. Then, there was Kina Sky, an animated film.

With most of the films made by Jamaicans, Blake-Hannah stressed that the country can also have a lively film industry.

"The Nigerians have inspired a lot of people. They have Nollywood, so let us make Jollywood. The film industry can reach the world, we just need to show the world what we have," she said.