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Sprinter races away with wins

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Jamaican film Sprinter, directed by Storm Saulter, had multiple wins at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami Beach, Florida on Saturday night.

It took Best Feature, Best Direction and the Audience Award. The ABFF ran from June 13 - 19.

Saulter is no stranger to the ABFF, having taken his maiden film Better Mus' Come there in 2011. He told the Jamaica Observer that he is pleased with winning Best Director, but the others as well.

“As a director it is great to be awarded Best Director 'cause that speaks to how you work, how you tell a story and so on, so that is sweet. But, to be honest, the Best Film Award and Audience Award are extra sweet... it's awarding everyone that's involved and film is a massive communal effort, so it's like with those awards everybody who took part is really winning,” he said.

The ABFF is an annual event showcasing film and television projects by and about people of African descent. Founded by Jeff Friday in 1997, it supports emerging artistes and foster a wider range of images, stories and storytellers in the entertainment industry. Held annually in June, it is five days of films, panel discussions, networking events, and screenings.

“ABFF just ended up being the right place for us. They loved the film. I had a great experience showing work with them before and I just knew that this is an audience film, and we knew that people would appreciate that and we knew that we would get to see a beautiful reaction,” said Saulter, who also spoke about the festival's development.

“This is my second time at ABFF with a film. It is an amazing gathering of film-makers and executives and film enthusiasts. It's a festival with a real family feeling and the work that comes through here is really celebrated and was truly the right place for us. They embraced this film, which is a blessing and kicks off a wave for where Sprinter is gonna go. It is definitely a place where young film-makers from the Caribbean should be paying attention in trying to get their work out.”

Sprinter is a coming-of-age drama which follows a 17-year-old student athlete who dreams of qualifying for the national youth track team in a bid to reunite with his mother, an illegal immigrant in the United States. The film's cast includes Dale Elliot, Shantol Jackson, Kadeem Wilson, and Dahlia Harris.

For Saulter, this win has opened up the possibilities for the film.