Lights, camera, GATTFEST

By Sade Gardner
Observer writer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Aspiring film-maker Tiyani Mathabathe was a refreshing distraction from technical difficulties organisers of GATFFEST faced in premiering the 2015 South African film Hear Me Move on Saturday night. The 10-year-old was among several guests at Mona Visitor's Lodge in St Andrew for the festival's opening night gala.

While technicians worked on improving the output quality of the film, Mathabathe told guests he believes he can make a living as a filmmaker, and needs no “back-up” career plan. Fifteen minutes later, it was showtime.

Directed by Scottnes Smith, Hear Me Move follows main character Muzi, and his quest to discover himself and learn the truth about the death of his street dancing father, murdered 12 years prior. Things take an interesting turn when he teams up with his father's former dance partner and joins the group Sbujwa Nation to compete in a dance competition.

In a skype audio, film producer Wandile Molebatsi said it is South Africa's first film which primarily focuses on dance, and said the nation's moves are being used in various music videos by international stars like Beyoncé. Commentary also came from director of The Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah who led a brief panel discussion exploring themes like family and the importance of dance to marginalised members of society in places like South Africa and Jamaica. Despite the shaky start, chair of the GATFFEST Planning Committee Professor Ian Boxhill was pleased with the evening.

“A part from the technical problem we had, which was very bizarre because up to the start every thing was well...but then that's how life is sometimes, but we were able to deal with it, so I think every thing went well,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Communities including Trench Town, Spot Valley, Nannyville and Port Royal have had film nights. Film workshops have also been held at Trench Town High School and Barrett Town Community Centre in Montego Bay.

“So far, so good, the turnout has been good on the community nights. We had a good mixture of youth and older people, so that was quite good,” Boxhill said.

The night also saw the unveiling of the Archie award in honour of principal of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Archibald McDonald. The award will be given to the best local and international film on the festival's final night on June 23.

GATFFEST was birthed six years ago out of the UWI Film Community Project as a way to expose its graduates. The project has served communities like Hannah Town, Jones Town and Trench Town, and has produced over 300 graduates. McDonald spoke highly of the project's growth.

“The most satisfying part of this is seeing young people who had nothing to do other than roll a spliff in the middle of their see those persons, many of whom would be marginalised today...but what Ian did was take them into the mainstream and now many of them are now gainfully employed,” he said.

GATFFEST continues today with Japanese Film Night at Palace Cineplex in Sovereign and its international film night on Tuesday at the same venue. Another workshop, featuring Colombian fimmaker Omar Ospina, will also be held on Tuesday at Spot Valley High School in Montego Bay. The Jamaican film night takes place on Friday at Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.

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