Photo: Triple-Gold Olympic athlete Usain Bolt & Fernando Garcia-Guerata.

“Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast”, a documentary film first entered in the Reggae Film Festival 2009, has been short-listed as Best Documentary and the only non-American film in this year’s American Black Film Festival.

“I really wanted my film to win a Reggae Film Festival award to show that Jamaicans liked it, before entering it in any other festivals”, says film Director Fernando Garcia-Guereta, But, after sending his entry, the Reggae Film Festival was postponed for financial reasons.

Undeterred, the director felt it was important to get a Jamaican audience’s reaction to his film, so he invited Reggae Film Festival director Barbara Blake Hannah to include the film in Jamaica Film Academy screenings she was hosting at Island Village, Ocho Rios and CPTC Studios, Kingston during the last week of February. The overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the audiences on both occasions assured Garcia Guereta that Jamaicans loved his documentary.

A recent screening at the opening of the ‘Kingston On The Edge’ art event, confirmed that audience response, as there was laughter throughout the screening and positive comments after.

The film uses footage of the six Jamaican Olympic Gold races, threaded through with reactions from Jamaican crowds watching at home and in the streets, interviews with the track stars themselves, comments from parents, friends, celebrities and sports figures, as well as the man-in-the-street. At the same time the film gives a clue that answers the title question, when it includes a youth track & field competition being held on a Port Antonio field while the Olympics are actually taking place that shows the enthusiasm and interest in athletics that begins at a young age in Jamaica.

Garcia-Guereta has been coming to Jamaica for more than a decade, spending half the year at his Port Antonio home and the other half in Europe where his high-tech company uses state-of-the art cameras to make historic records of such ancient treasures as the Pyramids of Egypt and the treasures of the British Museum. Shirley Hanna, mother of Miss World Lisa Hanna, is co-director with Fernando of Nice Time Productions, a Jamaican film and music company that produced the film. Nice Time Productions is already working on a second Jamaican film, “Hit Me With Music”, a documentary on dancehall.

‘Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast’ has an extensive sound track of reggae music from the 60s to today, with hits by Elephant Man and Movado (who also appears in the film), as well as Desmond Dekker, the Heptones and Bob Marley. “We wanted the film to be totally Jamaican,” they explain “so we did what was necessary to acquire the right music to accompany the pictures.”

Asked of his hopes for the film winning the Best Documentary award, Garcia-Guerta says: “I’ll be very happy, because it will be like Jamaica winning another Gold medal. Everyone will be glad to see Jamaica win again.”

The film will be screened at Miami Beach – Friday, June 26 – Colony Theater 12:40 PM and Cinematechique, Espanola Way at 10:30 AM.

Photos: (Center) Island Village, Ocho Rios audience
(Bottom – L-R): Shirley Hanna, Angela Patterson, CEO – CPTC; Fernando Garcia-Guerata, director “Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast”; Barbara Blake Hannah; Perry Cassagnol, Director – “The Forgotten Father” (front) Izyah Thorb, actor.

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