THE Lennie Little-White-directed documentary on the life and work of academic and choreographer Professor Rex Nettleford is complete.
It is set to premiere in February to coincide with the anniversary of his death. Nettleford died suddenly in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2010.
According to Little-White, the documentary, titled Long Live the King!, was commissioned by the Rex Nettleford Foundation headed by Sir Shridath Ramphal.
“We managed to create a balance that looks at his humble beginnings in Trelawny, his academic prowess, and his pinnacle in the dance,” says Little-White who conceptualised and directed the production. “Despite all his accolades in academia, the arts and governance — at home and abroad, Professor Nettleford took pride in being an ordinary man. We believe we have captured that essence in the film,” he says.
Long Live the King! contains interviews with former Jamaican Prime Ministers Edward Seaga, P J Patterson and Bruce Golding, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, reggae troubadour Jimmy Cliff, Sir Hillary Beckles and Barbadian member of parliament Mia Mottley.
Little-White says these are just a few luminaries that feature prominently in the video chronicles of the late professor’s life. However, he feels the most revealing aspects of the Nettleford story come from the mouth of the ‘king’ himself.
“[We have woven] a patchwork quilt of many interviews done in the last quarter of his life [which] creates an incredible insight into what made the man who will be forever revered around the world for his intellect and his role in the arts.”
His life as a co-founder of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), dancer and choreographer will feature prominently in Long Live the King!Little-White says archival footage will show him in works such as Plantation Revelry, The King Must Die, and his signature piece Kumina. The director says the work would not be complete without the photographic contribution of ace photographer, Maria La Yacona who has documented the work of the NDTC since it started in 1962. This is balanced by the rural photographic essays of Dr Owen Minott that help to illustrate the early years of ‘young Rex’ in Trelawny.
Original music was scored by Jon Williams and the story is narrated by Adrian Atkinson and Professor Edward Baugh. Multiple screenings of Long Live the King! will be held around the world by the Rex Nettleford Foundation in February.