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JAMPRO commits to growth of film industry

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, says the agency is committed to the growth and development of Jamaica's film industry and will be moving to galvanise support for the sector.

Speaking at a pre-event media brunch for the Sundance Film Festival premiere of 'Yardie' at JAMPRO's New Kingston headquarters on January 16, Edwards said that as part of this commitment, the agency will be lobbying the Government and other stakeholders.

“Our creative product needs much wider and broader expression (of interest) and we need to be supporting the industry more. Our competitors in the region have created film funds, tax rebates and upfront financing for films. JAMPRO will lobby the powers that be to develop a support mechanism for the film industry,” she said.

Edwards pointed out that not only is the agency placing focus on securing more jobs for Jamaicans working in the film industry, but also on getting an international place for Jamaican creative outputs such as music and stories.

JAMPRO, the national investment and export promotion agency mandated to promote investments in a number of targeted sectors, was instrumental in scouting locations for filming and arranging film permits for working in certain areas.

“We had a hand in this film (Yardie) and we are very excited to have that role to play in it. We want to see more movies filmed in Jamaica with Jamaican talent,” she said.
Edwards also wants to see the development of an empowered industry association as well as the implementation of a film licensing regime and a local guide to filming.

“There is a huge future for the Jamaican film industry, (and) we think Sundance is a step in the right direction, and, hopefully, it will take us to the next level,” she said.

Meanwhile, Film Commissioner, Renée Robinson, explained that discussions for the film began a number of years ago and that initial plans were not to cast local actors.

However, after the filmmakers travelled to Jamaica and were introduced to the talent pool and people within the local film industry, a decision was made to involve local actors.

Robinson congratulated the cast of Jamaican actors and actresses in the film, including Sheldon Shepherd, Shantol Jackson, Everaldo Creary and Antwayne Eccleston.

Meanwhile, Jackson said she is grateful for being a part of the film and hopes that it will resonate with Jamaicans because of its authenticity.

She also hailed the South St. Andrew community of Rose Town, where parts of the movie were filmed.

Set in the 1980s and adapted from Jamaican author, Victor Headley's cult novel, 'Yardie' was filmed in London and Jamaica. It is centred around a young Jamaican man named 'D', who gets caught up in a life of gang violence and winds up hunting down his brother's assassin in the streets of London.

'D' is played by Aml Ameen of the 'Maze Runner' and 'The Butler', and marks the directorial debut of British star, Idris Elba.

'Yardie' will have its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 18 to 28 in Utah, United States, where it will be screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition from January 20.

The film has been ranked in the top-25 most anticipated international films by the multiplatform American digital and print magazine, the 'Hollywood Reporter'.

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