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Regional awareness makes film-making difference

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Ras Kassa and Franklyn 'Chappie' St Juste were among the Jamaicans involved in the inaugural The Best of CaribbeanTales Film Festival, and though the output has been sporadic at best, with Perry Henzell's
The Harder They Come
(1972) through to the late 1990s
Dancehall Queen
Third World Cop
, Jamaica can lay claim to some of the more noted movies made in the Caribbean.

However, Mary Wells cautions that "films from Jamaica have been international trailblazers no question about it, but the rest of the Caribbean region is exploding with the making of all kinds of films and incredible talent. And it's not because they have better economies and more access to money. It's because their headspace is very different".

She mused, "Some reasons could be that they haven't had to weather all the heavy social ailments and political upheavals that Jamaicans have had to bear and wear every day on their sleeves." However, she continued that film-makers in the rest of the region "come across as far more mature in their handling of films around sensitive issues. There's far more exploration and understanding of their very Creole heritage and 'Caribbeaness' and, most of all, they are far more aware of each other".

This is "unlike Jamaicans, who often don't know the rest of the region (or Jamaican film-makers who don't know or care about other film-makers from the rest of the Caribbean) and feel the world revolves around them and only them and their popular culture and music".

Wells reaffirmed, though, that "Jamaica is still edgy and hip. We have a ton load of stories to tell and bring to 'the Caribbean table'. We have another wicked Caribbean experience and sensibility. No question about that."

- Mel Cooke