Big plans for Reggae Film Festival 2010

Big plans for Reggae Film Festival 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

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THE Reggae Film Festival 2010 at the Hilton Kingston, produced by film-maker and film festival organiser Barbara Blake Hannah, will open February 25 with a Red Carpet Gala Reception and screening of the documentary Made in Jamaica. This features a galaxy of reggae stars including Capleton, Bunny Wailers, Third World, Beenie Man and Lady Saw, all of whom are among the VIP reggae celebrities invited as special guests.

The Hilton Ballroom will be transformed into a cinema for nightly screenings, while the Jonkanoo Lounge will host lunchtime screenings, a seminar and a special children's programme. The Hilton Kingston offers a special Reggae Film Festival accommodation package and will also offer lunchtime specials for midday cinemagoers.

Films already entered include several premieres by Jamaican and international directors, including entries from Hawaii, Italy, Japan, UK and Brazil. Awards will be presented by a panel of judges in nine categories, including Best Film, Best Documentary and Best Music Video, and audiences will be invited to select their favourites.

Several international celebrities have been invited to attend, including Spike Lee, rapper/actress Eve and Roger Guenevere Smith, star of Jamaican feature Betta Mus' Come and eight Spike Lee films, as well as the blockbuster American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington. The noted actor will present a lecture with film clips as part of the festival's programme.

The Reggae Film Festival 2010 is produced by a planning committee of the Jamaica Film Academy, comprising Mikey Barnett, Dr Michael Barnett, Lloyd Laing, Teddy Laidley, Lesley-Ann Welsh and UK film archivist Peter Gittins.

Jamaica will have more than one festival of reggae films in Reggae Month, as the Reggae Film Festival 2010 will be preceded by a film series presented by the JARIA Reggae Month Committee. The JARIA film series is co-ordinated by Marjorie Scott-Anderson, organiser of the Songwriters Bootcamp, under Reggae Month Committee chairman Charles Campbell. Funding for JARIA is by the European Union PSDP programme, while the Reggae Film Festival 2010 is sponsored by Jamaican private sector companies.

When asked why she had not co-ordinated the Reggae Film Festival 2010 with the JARIA programme, Blake-Hannah said that it was when she called the committee chairman Campbell to see if the dates planned for the RFF 2010 would clash with anything else planned, that he informed her that JARIA was already planning its own film festival.

She said that since the first Reggae Film Festival in 2008, there have been many spinoffs, with festival film winners being invited to international events and winning awards. Film festivals and people around the world, including Jamaica, have begun including reggae films in their programmes or presenting look-alike events, but these all have served to achieve the main objective of the Jamaica Film Academy, which is to promote Jamaican film culture, which is what the JFA set out to do.

Nevertheless, she said she was surprised that the Jamaican reggae music industry thought so little of her efforts to promote the industry through film, that they went ahead with similar plans without inviting her to assist, but felt there was no turning back on her plans to give Jamaica another Reggae Film Festival.

Blake-Hannah, who presented Jamaica's first film festival in 1974 and has produced several more since, has been a guest of international film festivals in Venice, Iraq and Cannes. She has produced several films of her own and worked on The Harder They Come, A High Wind in Jamaica and Kla$h. She conceptualised the first Reggae Film Festival as a special project while she worked as consultant to the minister of information, culture, youth & sports, and assisted with the setting up, planning and procedures for declaring and presenting the first Reggae Month in 2008.

The Reggae Film Festival is a privately funded activity of the Jamaica Film Academy. The JFA's aim is to see the festival become an annual date in Jamaica's events calendar that will provide Jamaican films with the needed international exposure that they deserve. The Reggae Film Festival has already seen four different films made as a direct result of its first event in 2008 and two films winning international awards, evidence of just how important this event is.

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