BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
HOME Again, a film depicting the challenges faced by individuals after deportation to Jamaica could have easily been a local production had the Government not snubbed approaches by writer/co-producer Jennifer Holness.
Shot in Trinidad and Tobago, the film had its Jamaican premiere at the Carib 5 Cinema in Cross Roads, St Andrew last night.
Yesterday, Holness, a Jamaican-born Canadian producer, told the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange of the obstacles she and her team encountered in getting the Jamaican Government on board to ensure the production was done locally.
Holness said, with the help of the film commission (an arm of Jamaica Promotions — Jampro), she tried to tie down meetings with several Government officials, but to no avail.
"The film commission really, really tried to set up meetings, but it didn't happen. We never ever had a conversation," said Holness.
According to her, the script was sent to the film commission with an explanation as to why she wanted to make the movie.
"I felt slighted. I wanted to shoot in Jamaica. It was very emotional for us," she said.
"I believe that this story [of trying to resettle in Jamaica after deportation] is bigger than exposing a problem. Real people's lives are being affected. If Government cared, this movie should be supported," she said.
According to Holness, after five years of failed attempts to meet with Jamaican Government officials, she and her co-producer David 'Sudz' Sutherland finally decided in 2011 to move on.
Unlike Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago welcomed her with open arms, providing attractive tax incentives which saw her receiving a US$330,000 cash rebate.
The twin-island republic's economy also benefited as about 1,000 extras were hired, plus homeowners in more than 25 locations were paid for temporary use of their houses in the movie. More than US$1.7 million was spent in that country.
Two years later, Trinidad and Tobago is still enjoying the spin-off.
Jamaican actor Paul Campbell, who plays Uncle Archie Morris in the film, expressed frustration with the red tape that is stifling the local film industry.
"Why is it that Jamaica is always missing the boat?" he asked. "We should take the opportunity to come together as Caribbean people. Jamaica missed out on jobs for the people. We will continue to do so if we don't have incentives in place."
Home Again, which also stars Tatyana Ali, Lyriq Bent, and Kadeem Wilson, among others, tells the story of three characters who grew up in Canada, the United States and England. Deported to Jamaica, each quickly discovers a different place from the idyllic paradise seen in vacation ads or from childhood memories.
The film opens to the public tomorrow at the Carib 5 Cinema.