A labour of love


A labour of love

Lost Henzell film restored and premièred at former home

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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The spirit of veteran Jamaican film-maker Perry Henzell was alive at his former home last Wednesday, as family, friends and associates gathered for the local première of his second film No Place Like Home which was shot in 1974.

The film stars, American Susan O'Meara, perennial local film star Carl Bradshaw, Countryman, with cameo by the likes of Jamaican model, singer and actress Grace Jones. It had been shelved and later lost, but in a twist of fate 40 reels of footage were discovered, but had begun to deteriorate.

In 2004 the process began to restore the film, but by 2006 Henzell died after battling cancer. Among his dying wishes was that the film be restored and brought to the screen.

No Place Like Home was started long ago, very soon after The Harder They Come. Perry didn't think The Harder They Come was experimental enough so he had to push the envelope even further; so he decided No Place Like Home was to be even more authentic. It was a very hard road to travel — the film had many shoots; [and] it relied on the kindness of family and friends to get it as far as it did. This was a true labour of love, right down to the restoration required for us to show it to you. That was undertaken by an amazing man called David Garonzik. David worked tirelessly for many years to restore this film, and he begged and borrowed from all his friends in Los Angeles,” explained Henzell's daughter Justine.

Also present at last week's screening was producer Arthur Gorson, who was also instrumental in bringing the film back to life.

“The restoration process was twofold. There was the release of the project which was shown at the Toronto Film Festival before Perry passed. It was a very rough cut that could not be released because there was not rights to the music. Perry passed the day before it was shown at the Flashpoint Film Festival in Negril, and so he never got to see it in Jamaica. We continued on and I started working closely with David Goronzik, and he managed to get people to do amazing things, and slowly the restoration came about. At some point we were going to do a crowd-funding to raise money to obtain the rights. I suggested that we do a little clip. We started to put stuff together and the little clip grew. We then found out-takes of Perry directing and it became a documentary called a A Filmmaker's Odyssey. For some of the owners of the rights, such as Neil Diamond's wife and Carly Simon, we showed them the film and it broke their heart. They gave us the rights for [US]$1,000 rather than [US$}$10,000,” he shared.

No Place Like Home follows a New York film crew who are in Jamaica to shoot a commercial for a brand of shampoo. A series of unforeseen incidents result in the producer going on a road trip across Jamaica and getting a better understanding of the island, its people, and herself in the process. The film is a true time capsule which offers viewers a peek back at 1970s Jamaica and the socio-economic and political views of the time. Incredible shots of the town of Lucea in Hanover, an unspoilt Negril, Ocho Rios, and a bustling Hellshire are strung throughout.

The film is driven by an impressive soundtrack which includes music by Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, The Three Degrees, and Marcia Griffiths.

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