Here's to you!

GATFFEST gives to emerging film-makers

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer
aaliyahc@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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STAYING true to its promise to help emerging film-makers produce short films, GATFFEST Film Festival handed over cheques to the winners from its Film Pitch Competition, held in June.

The ceremony was held at the Principal's Office, University of the West Indies' (UWI) Mona Campus in Kingston, yesterday morning.

With more than 20 submissions, Vennessa Hanshaw, who pitched A Touch of Sugar, and Hanif James A Shade of Indigo were winners and received $700,000 each. Both films will premiere at GATFFEST in 2020.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer following the ceremony, Hanshaw expressed gratitude for the acknowledgement of her work, and the funds to bring her vision to life.

“This means I can complete my project!” she exclaimed. “We have started the ground-work, the script writing. We have been having the meetings, we are gathering the crew so it is the actual production that this will contribute to, which is great — because this is more than we have been expecting to get.”

Hanshaw is a newcomer to the film industry. She is a visual artist, podcast host, and designer. She said her inspiration is drawn from American film-makers, including Spike Lee, John Singleton, and Shonda Rhimes. She hopes to eventually have her own series on HBO.

Equall elated, James said the financial boost will help offset the high cost of film production.

“Production value is usually a lot, and I am grateful for the contribution because it shows that they [GATFFEST] understands that and they are committed to creating a quality product,” he told Jamaica Observer.

The architect-turned-film maker is a graduated from the University of Technology. It was through his studies there he unearth his passion for film-making. He is a current participant in the Jamaica Film Lab as a script editor.

Both films look at social issues such as skin bleaching and alcohol abuse.

Continuing its work to develop film in Jamaica, GATFFEST also made a $500,000 contribution to Kaiel Eytle's film Nice Lady. His project is to be completed in-house by the UWI Community Film Project.

Eytle said the gesture will afford his film students the opportunity to see their work come to life.

“It is difficult to get money for short films. My particular project is unique because it gives me the chance to work with some of student and other professionals in the industry to continue the training in a practical sense — to work on something with a real budget behind it and see it develop, from the script right through to the premiere,” he said.

The contributions were funded by the Bob Marley Foundation and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, which donated $1.9M to the initiative. The projects are to be completed in three inner-city communities, namely Trench Town, Rose Town, and August Town.

Started in 2013, GATFFEST Film Festival (formerly Greater August Town Film Festival) is organised by the UWI Community Film Project at The University of the West Indies. It was created as an outlet for graduates to showcase films produced during their training. Through the support of sponsors, the festival has developed from three days to an eight-day affair.


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