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Row over UK reggae film fest

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter
Sunday, July 29, 2012

BARBARA Blake-Hannah, director of the Reggae Film Academy in Jamaica, is contending that her concept for a reggae film festival in London, during the Olympics and for Jamaica 50 celebrations, has been copied by British organisers.

This claim, however, has been denied by promoters of Festival Jamaica 2012.

According to Blake-Hannah, she had been in talks with representatives of Festival Jamaica 2012 and had been waiting for a contract from them since October last year.

The 11-day festival was set to begin last Friday in Stratford, England.

She told the Jamaica Observer that word reached her just over one week ago that the group was going ahead with its own plans to organise a film festival showcasing Jamaican films.

"This piracy of the Reggae Film Festival concept is a real slap in the face for the indigenous Jamaican film industry that is struggling to survive and find resources to capture and tell Jamaican stories," Blake-Hannah said.

"Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but not honourable," she continued.

In a sharp response, Ziggi Golding — organiser of the UK event — declared that no rights had been infringed on by her organisation as she had no agreement or promise of contract with Blake-Hannah.

"To set the record straight, there is no agreement made nor signed. No concept has been copied. We had our own concept. The Reggae Film Festival was simply an addition to our already formulated film programme," she stated.

According to Golding, Blake Hannah 'jumped the gun' by "offering the use of her logo to promote the film festival. She also began to promote using our logo without asking for the rights to use the logo, and before any conclusion to our talks."

Golding states further that the discussions broke down when, "Ms Blake Hannah became unreasonable in her demands. My partner in Festival Jamaica 2012 and I were no longer interested."

According to Blake-Hannah, the festival is using films which were not made by Jamaicans.

Films to be shown include: Rockers, the 1978 reggae cult classic by Greek-American director Ted Bafaloukas; documentaries Life & Debt, H2 Worker and Africa Unite by American Stephanie Black; and Chris Blackwell's Dancehall Queen and Countryman.

"The films that we plan to show were given to us directly by the directors and producers such as Wayne Jobson, Stephanie Black, and Greg Pond, and are not the property of Reggae Film Festival. Nor does the Reggae Film Festival own any concept unique to showing these films," said Golding.




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