BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
This year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has come to an end, but the Caribbean has had quite the year where film festivals are concerned, involved in some ground breaking projects that is paving the way for future Caribbean filmmakers.
This year the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) led the film industry delegation to two of the world’s leading film promotion platforms, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) in September 2016. JAMPRO partnered with the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) to support the Propella! initiative supporting the talent of Jamaican filmmakers and acquiring international exposure for Jamaican culture through film.
Five new Jamaican short films were selected through a blind process to be produced this summer and will be screened at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival this September. The filmmakers participated in boot camps on scriptwriting, directing, pitching, festival strategy and deal making so they would be prepared for festival season. The five projects included: “Origins” (Kurt Wright and Noelle Kerr), “Shock Value” (Adrian Lopez), “Shoot the Girl” (Tony Hendricks and Natalie Thompson), “Sugar” (Laurie Parker, Sharon Leach, Michelle Serieux), and “The Silent Ones” (Gregory Lopez and Janet Morrison)
Jamaica’s Film Commissioner, Renee Robinson and nineteen other industry leaders attended TIFF from September 7th-14th to promote Jamaica for potential filming opportunities and to obtain development prospects for Jamaican projects. Then, from September 20th – 27th, those six filmmakers will be premiering their films in Trinidad at the TTFF as a part of PROPELLA!, JAMPRO and JAFTA’s (Jamaica Film and Television Association) film development initiative. Both missions will advertise Jamaica as a film-producing destination and serve as an avenue to make valuable connections in the international film industry.
The Agency has targeted the events as part of its industry development strategy and ‘Script-to-Screen’ programme which was launched at last year’s Jamaica Film Festival. JAMPRO aims to use the festivals to provide international exposure for filmmakers, as well as to present Jamaica as a filming destination and content creation leader in the Caribbean. In addition actor and director Nick Cannon’s film ‘King of the Dancehall’ which was shot in Jamaica premiered at TIFF, heightening brand Jamaica’s presence at the festival this year.
In response to the announcement of the industry missions, Renee Robinson expressed that JAMPRO was pleased to partner with JAFTA to further the script-to-screen initiative and for the opportunity to show new Jamaican content to an international audience. “We have partnered with the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) to discover and cultivate an annual cohort of Jamaica’s top film talent. The script-to-screen format originated at last year’s Jamaica Film Festival and will continue as the PROPELLA! initiative,” she said.
Robinson went on to say that JAMPRO had many recent discussions with the film industry and that these meetings have influenced the agency’s direction with regards to industry development, “The industry has told us that it needs to create content and to have access to mechanisms of financial support and international opportunities. We will prioritize having a stronger presence at international film festivals, and working closely with our local talent to develop commercial opportunities. This delegation to the Toronto International Film Festival and to the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival will help to propel the Jamaican film industry into the global landscape, ”she explained.
With regards to the Jamaica Film Festival (JaFF), Robinson noted that the JaFF has been postponed to ensure that the festival represents an even stronger experience at its next staging, “The inaugural staging of the Jamaica Film Festival must be applauded for facilitating capacity building, exhibiting local content, and helping to build opportunities for international collaboration. Across the globe, national film festivals serve to showcase high caliber content and catalyze business opportunities for industry professionals. Our goal for the next staging will be to have a results-driven impact on a content-ready and market-ready Jamaican film industry,” she explained.
JAMPRO’s goal is to position Jamaica as a competitive content provider and industry hub in the global film industry. The Film Commission will pursue a holistic programme to increase economic and cultural growth through the expansion and monetization of the creative industries.
JAMPRO is an Agency of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.