Sprinter bolts into cinemas

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Local audiences will soon have the opportunity to view the local film Sprinter.

The feature length project written and directed by Storm Saulter, will premičre at Carib 5 in Kingston this Tuesday, with a theatrical release here in Jamaica as well as in the United States set for April.

Sprinter is being described as a coming-of-age drama highlighting every day Jamaican culture that is rarely seen on film. The film follows 17-year-old Akeem Sharp, nicknamed the Rasta Rocket for his once-in-a-generation speed, who is set to be Jamaica's next big track-and-field sensation. Akeem hopes his rise in athletics will take him to the US for the World Youth Championships in Los Angeles and reunite him with his mother, who has supported the family while living as an illegal alien.

The film which was shot in 2016 and 2017 has been garnering a treasure trove of awards on the international film festival circuit since last year. So far, its wins are Best Feature Film, Best Director, and Audience Award at 2018's American Black Film Festival, and Jury Winner for Best Narrative Feature at the 2019 Pan African Film Festival, and was also a winner at Nouveaux Regards festival in Guadeloupe.

For Saulter, taking his project on the festival circuit has been his way of getting the product noticed so that at the time of the general release there can be a buzz.

“That is the route most of us with indie films are taking days. We just have to put it out these at these events and see what happens, especially when we don't have the big budget of a major studio behind us pushing. We have a great product and has been winning all these awards, so it says to the audience, look out, something to look froward to is coming your way,”he said.

“Given the global impact of track and field, this is really a film for the masses. But at the same time, there are other themes that people will be able to latch on to. The film deals with issues such as immigration and that whole 'barrel pickney' syndrome. The screenings we have had all over the world have been very inspiring and continue to show us the various ways that the film affects the audience. Unlike my other film, Better Mus Come, which was a tragedy that dealt with a dark space, this film takes its audience on a different kind of journey, one of hope and there is a strong sense of overcoming obstacles in Sprinter,” Saulter continued.

Sprinter stars newcomer Dale Elliott as Akeem, Kadeem Wilson ( Ghett' A Life), Dennis Titus ( The Mighty Quinn), Shantol Jackson ( Yardie), Bryshere Y Gray ( Empire, The New Edition Story), with Lorraine Toussaint ( Orange is The New Black), and David Alan Grier ( Jumanji, In Living Color).

This film is executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, who signed on with the project after reading the script.

“It was all about timing,” Saulter explained. “ Is so happens that they were looking for new, young diverse voices in film at the same as I came up with the script along with Rob Maylor. This is their first indie film project that they are signing up and we all know they have some of the biggest followings out there as celebrities. I guess they saw my passion and vision and decided to put their energy into the film, and we are truly grateful.”

Never one to rest on his laurels, Saulter is currently working on the script for the adaptation of Marlon James' first novel John Crow's Devil. He is also building his slate of work by creating some content for television.

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