Hairport comes up big at short film contest
A screen grab from the short film Hairport

HAIRPORT was named winner at the second annual staging of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) FiWi Short Film Competition held at Palace Cineplex at Sovereign Centre in St Andrew on Thursday.

The film's co-producer and cinematographer George Malcolm-Walker says he hopes to see more investments in the island's film industry.

"That's something that I'm really passionate about. I see, for example, films in this competition and films from last year and even films from other agencies throughout Jamaica and some of them I'm really pleased with. Others, I see where they can be improved. I'm really happy for competitions like this that get the conversation going. I want the conversation to be more around how can we improve; how can we continue to build this industry. I think we really want to strive for that international standard and that's my personal aim and I think Jamaica can get there. We do have the equipment and we really can become that premier film brand in the region," he told the Jamaica Observer's Splash shortly after the event.

Malcolm-Walker was representing Hairport's writer Joel Miller, who is currently overseas.

In addition to first overall winner, he also walked away with sectional prizes including best drama, best cinematography, best editing and first place for adults. In second place was Nasika Alliman with Home Bound, while Jhanielle Powell claimed the third spot for Trade Secrets.

For first place in the Youth Category, Keron Watson took the top prize with Friend Killa.

The other finalists were Shaneque Johnson (The King's Way), Donnielle Robe ( Nuh Mek Yuh Right Han Kno), Jhaneil Smith (Same Knife), Romardo Lyons and Nora-Gay Banton (Frendemic), Amoy Smith (Batty and Chamber), Tiffany Crosdale and Joell Smith (Because I love you), Amanda Lawson (Fatal Devotion), Ariel Baim-Bridge (Poncho), Daindra Harrison (WOMB), Rhysha Brown (Let it all out) and Emanuel's Senior (More Like Yuh).

Meanwhile, Malcom-Walker did a course in digital media at the Vocational Training Development Institute and now works in the film industry full-time. He said he was first approached by Miller last year about the FiWi Short Film Competition.

"He has written projects that I've collaborated on…he likes my work and so he brought me on as a producer for this film and, of course, I offered all the other services that he needed. He felt that this competition was a good idea, he loved the vision. He asked me also to give my opinion on it and he thought it was a big deal. He didn't get to enter last year and so he said that this year, this was going to be his opportunity," he explained.

Entrants were asked to examine one of five selected Jamaican proverbs and create a short film, based on their interpretation.

Some of the Jamaican proverbs were 'Nuh Mek Yuh Lef Han Kno Wha Yuh Right Han a Do', 'Nuh Dash Wey Yu Tick Before Yuh Dun Crass Riva', 'Igle Jackass Falla Cane Trash Go a Poun', 'Wen Coco Ripe Im Mus Buss', and 'Same Knife Tick di Sheep Tick di Goat'.

The winning item selected 'Nuh Mek Yuh Lef Han Kno Wha Yuh Right Han a Do.' Malcolm-Walker praised Miller for his concept which made them walk away with the $300,000 cash prize.

"The writing is his idea. It's the team along with the other producer, Kerry-Ann Wright, who worked on that idea and I really just executed the vision of the shooting, the editing, the lighting and the sound," said the co-producer who is also the principal of EdgeLights Media.

Hairport sees a young hairdresser desperate to improve her economic situation to the point where she drugs and steals the identity of her friend and flees the country.

Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, expressed enthusiasm at Thursday's production during his address to the audience.

"The film industry is a multi-trillion-dollar industry and it is so good for Jamaicans to capitalise on that…you have people watching the Indian shows, the Nigerian shows with subtitles. You have Chinese shows now with subtitles and you have Netflix in most homes…What today has demonstrated is the power of language and the power of culture," he said.

The winner noted that the winning cash prize will be invested in other film projects.

"It's a number of persons on the film — including producers, cast members — so we will be having a meeting to see how best we need to be sharing this. We will be reinvesting it in our craft," Malcolm-Walker said.

George Malcolm-Walker, co-producer of Hairport, with the winning Diamond Award and cheque for $300,0000 in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) FiWi Short Film Competition held at Palace Cineplex at Sovereign Centre in St Andrew on Thursday. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)
Acting marketing and public relations director at JCDC Michelle Naraysingh (left) presenting Nora-Gay Banton and Romardo Lyons with the People's Choice Award.
From left: State minister Alando Terrelonge presenting Keron Watson with the first-place prize in the Youth Category along with Natova Shand, marketing assistant at Consolidated Bakeries.
Kediesha Perry

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