IN THE SPOTLIGHT

This week:

MACKA DIAMOND STARS IN ‘REDEMPTION OF PARADISE’
JOSEPH’ FILM TRAILER COMPLETED – SURPRISE GUEST STAR
NEW PRESIDENT FOR JTI
SOUTH AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL INVITES CARIBBEAN FILMS
‘NO PLACE LIKE HOME’ SCREENS IN HARLEM

Jamaican and Caribbean films have become a focus of attention around the world, resulting in a flutter of recent activity in film circles and the production of several feature and documentary films. Rick Elgood’s well-made TV series “Me an’ Mi Krew” is currently in prime time repeats on Jamaica’s CVM-TV, while documentary film maker Mary Wells has taken her first step into feature film production with “Kingston Paradise” which wrapped recently.

I was recently given a copy of “Crazy Abdul”, a G-Flex Films production out of Portmore that is mostly guns, Gaza and Gully, but which the director assures me sells well to fans of Nigerian films. The quality of these films is always unexpected, but the fact of their existence and popularity is a positive step towards a film industry as productive as Jamaica’s music industry.

While Jamaica continues to lead in numbers of productions, the island of Antigua has become a film-making mecca, with another production recently completed by the very prolific 18-year-old company Hamafilms Antigua, producers of “The Sweetest Mango” (2001) who are currently editing “The Seed” a thriller which also stars Jamaica’s Carl Bradshaw.


‘REDEMPTION OF PARADISE’
Antigua was recently the location for “Redemption of Paradise”, a feature film starring dancehall diva ‘Money-O” Macka Diamond – a flamboyant stage personality and author of a sensational autobiography. Described by its director Noel “Doc” Howell M.D., as ‘an epic story about guns, drugs and redemption’, the film recently held a premiere at Weekenz show venue in St. Andrew with the media hype at high level because of its celebrity star.

The story features Macka as a retired police officer returned to live in her island ‘paradise’, who finds drug dealers have caused crime and violence to increase. She sets out to create the redemption of paradise, confronting the bad men and generally rallying the island people. Macka does a fairly good job of acting and projecting her well-known persona on the screen. It’s a pity her hard work was not accompanied by a more professional videographer, sound and lighting crew that would have produced a more polished production, but viewers are promised a sequel in which we can only hope these problems will disappear.

When questioned about her take on the movie, the money goddess stated, “I feel good, it’s a new experience for me and I think it was a good attempt. I know my fans are just going to love the movie. I’m up for any criticisms because there’s definitely going to be a part two and any comment on the first will give us an opportunity to build on the second.”

One interesting aspect of the production’s very professional packaging and marketing campaign is that the film will go straight to DVD sales after a brief cinema run, showing that the producers of films like these realize that they can only hope to earn some profit from home and party collections before piracy swallows up their hard work.

I give “Redemption of Paradise” an A for effort and nominate Macka Diamond as one of the contenders for the Best Actress Award of the 2010 Reggae Film Festival.

‘JOSEPH’ FILM TRAILER COMPLETED – SURPRISE GUEST STAR
Jamaica Media Productions in association with Musical Circus, is proud to announce that the company is in pre-production of the feature film JOSEPH based on my novel JOSEPH – A RASTA REGGAE FABLE.
Scenes were recently shot on location at Buju Banton’s Gargamel Studios to produce a trailer to be used as a marketing tool for investment and distribution. Videographer Allan ‘Endless’ Tennant filmed using a Sony XE camera, with sound recorded by Rohan Foster. Editing of the trailer was done by MultiCast Entertainment with help from CPTC studios.
Among those playing roles in the film are well-known Jamaican actor Carl Davis (‘Royal Palm Estate’, ‘Third World Cop’, ‘Almost Heaven’); Singer/TV/Radio hostess Empress Mullings and Makonnen Blake Hanna, plus a very special Guest Star, former World Heavyweight Boxing champion Lennox Lewis whose film career includes a lead role in the British film Johnny Was”. You can see the JOSEPH Trailer at YouTube/JaMediaPro.

NEW PRESIDENT FOR JTI
Welcome to Mrs. Stacia Templer who has been appointed President of Jamaica Trade and Invest, the Government agency that spearheads and invites overseas investment in Jamaica and in that capacity supervises the film industry. Coming from the Office of the Prime Minister where she served as chief technical officer for planning and development, she will undoubtedly bring a fresh approach to the responsibilities of the post.

Giving his reason for dismissing former CEO Robert Gregory, Minister of Industry & Commerce Carl Samuda said that foreign investment had stagnated and what remained on the books reflected carry-over investments primarily from Spanish hotels completing construction projects already underway and from Flow, which has invested heavily in technology infrastructure over the past few years.

In a story pulished in the Jamaica OBSERVER August 28, the Minister is quoted as saying: “What we want to do is have a virtual explosion of investment, local and foreign, in agriculture, and strengthen local activities that enable local businesses to get into production for export. Entertainment and sports should also be a critical focus at JTI. We have to be satisfied that the leadership of the organisation must be able to aggressively address these challenges in an appropriate and meaningful way,” he said.

The administration and development of the film industry under the control of JTI has been less than satisfactory to many members. It is hoped that the new President and also the improvements being made to the Motion Picture Encouragement Act will bring a fresh approach to managing the exciting opportunities for investment and income from the burgeoning Jamaican film industry.

SOUTH AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL INVITES CARIBBEAN FILMS
In the past 2 years there has been a surge of interest by international film festivals seeking Jamaican and Caribbean films and the organizers of the Reggae Film Festival are frequently contacted with requests for programming. Here’s an invitation from a South African film festival.

ALUTA FILM FESTIVAL 2010 – Dates: Monday 22 – Saturday 28 February 2010
OFFICIAL CALL FOR ENTRIES – Monday 30 November 2009
The organisers of the ALUTA FILM FESTIVAL, South Africa’s premier township cinema event, are calling for entries from South African and International filmmakers for 2010, the 7th edition of the festival. The 2010 film festival edition will be hosted on the 22nd till 28th February 2010 in Kimberley – South Africa. We are interested in showcasing Caribbean films at our next edition of the ALUTA FILM FESTIVAL 2010.

Submissions MUST be from filmmakers who have produced films that embrace BLACK experiences worldwide and/or experiences of marginalized communities from across the globe. Submissions MUST be from filmmakers from all over the world with special emphasis on world cinema (films that explore history, social issues and highlight marginalized communities within the developing world).

ALUTA FILM FESTIVAL accepts features, documentaries and short films in the genres/sub-genres of drama, action, thriller, comedy, animation and factual. Filmmakers must guarantee, should their film/video be selected, that permission from the rights holder is secured for a minimum of four screenings at the 7th annual Aluta Film Festival 2010.

Filmmakers are requested to submit DVD PAL screeners of their films and a brief filmmaker biography for viewing by our panel, upon viewing – all selected filmmakers will be forwarded the official application details as well as all festival regulations. Please note that no screeners will be returned.

For additional information feel free to contact festival director at motheoseleke@yahoo.com. All entries MUST be forwarded to the below mentioned address:

Motheo Seleke; Aluta Film Festival; 18985 Guttenburg Pitse Street; John Mampe. Phase One; Galeshewe. Kimberley. 8300; South Africa

NO PLACE LIKE HOME’ SCREENS IN HARLEM

Perry Henzell’s second feature “No Place Like Home” which he commenced in 1974 and finished in 2007 screened August 16, 23 and 30 at the Maysles Cinema in the heart of Harlem as part of the Keeling Reggae Caribbean Film series tribute to Henzell.

The film which stars Carl Bradshaw, Countryman and P.J. Soles, was shown at the Flashpoint Film Festival the day after Henzell died in 2007 has yet to have an island-wide release in Jamaica. Supporting the film was Chris Browne’s documentary ‘A Hard Road To Travel” of interviews with Henzell and others who helped make “The Harder They Come” the success it became.

HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!!

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TAKING A ‘NET VACATION’


TAKING A ‘NET VACATION
If you have missed my Blog for the past few weeks, it’s because I’ve been on a ‘net vacation’, a recommended activity for all people like me who live on the Internet. Moving house a month ago, it took 2 weeks for my FLOW internet to be re-connected and once again I have been reminded of the enormous change in my working life that has come with Bill Gates’ Microsoft personal computers and the World Wide Web.

Plugged out from the life-giving supply of digital connection to the outside world, I recall the pre-Internet days when Jamaica was surrounded by invisible walls that only enabled communication with others via expensive long-distance calls and snail mail that took 2 weeks to reach its destination.

One learned Patience and Faith in those days, when one was forced to maintain a fully paid-up relationship with the only telecom company, as overdue bills resulted in not only a large re-connection fee but also payment of an increased ‘deposit’. As such costs were sometimes even more burdensome than the unpaid service charges, many persons simply sighed and remained unconnected.

The freedom of the Internet came to Jamaica in the early 1990s, and we scrambled to learn HTML so we could build our own websites to promote ourselves to the world. The ease of email made trips to the Post Office obsolete and suddenly one could write to Bill Gates as easily as to our family and friends overseas.

Accompanying my son at the Awards Weekend in Los Angeles for the winners of the 1999 ThinkQuest International Student Website Competition, I met Jaron Lanier – the man accredited with inventing the Internet. You can imagine my pleasure to discover that he has been dreadlocksed since his teens, not as a Rasta, but as he says: “… because that’s how my hair wants to grow.” Made me love the Internet even more.

As the internet was reconnected and I hastily logged into my mailboxes at Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail, my Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, I sent out a silent message: Thanks, Jaron Lanier. May your tribe increase!

I used the time while offline to rebuild my Jamaica Media Productions company website and have now uploaded it to a new address. Those interested may visit http://jamediapro.jahweb.co.cc

BOOK REVIEWS
Had a lot of time while offline to read some books and share reviews of two US novels for children that impressed me.

PROFESSOR ANGELICUS VISITS THE BIG BLUE BALL
Author: L.B.B.B. Ward
Publisher: MumbleFish Books, New Jersey, USA

As Zak, his friend Ivy and his dog Ziggy go fishing one day, they are surprised as a visitor from space – Professor Aquius Botanicus Angelicus – descends in a big water bubble. The Professor has come to Earth – the Big Blue Ball — searching for clean water to refresh his spaceship and he persuades the children to help him find some.

The journey around the Big Blue Ball in search of the world’s most precious commodity is long and desperate, but filled with imagination, discovery and friendship, as the travelers discover that acid rain, global warming, chemical and industrial pollution, drought and diverted rivers have made clean water a scarce global resource. The story is a vivid description of the peril the world faces as our water resources are depleted, and is told in a easy-to-read manner that will captivate children of all ages. I can see the adventure appealing to teenagers reading it themselves, and can be easily read to and understood by young children.

Moral values are imparted as the story progresses. In one adventure searching underwater, they are arrested by the Shark Patrol and brought before the President of the Underwater Confederation of whales and sharks. Commenting on the store of missiles and guns Professor Angelicus tells him: “Things have gotten out of alignment here. Hate makes more hate. Only love can make love. If the residents balanced their body, mind and spirit, the Big Blue Ball would be better balanced.”

On another occasion, Professor Angelicus is suffering from lack of water and the children wonder how to restore him. Ivy suggests: “Maybe we should pray. I read that when people pray, rays of light rise up toward heaven.”

Towards the end, Professor Angelicus and the children arrive at the Great Council of the Land of Sparkle and see before them the Living Mural of Eternity featuring the Great Leaders of Kindness. Imagery such as this book presents can inspire young people, while providing adults with a foundation on which to teach important moral lessons and guide them into adult maturity with positive values.

THE BIG BLUE BALL is available at Amazon, and also from Professor Angelicus website links at MySpace and http://professorangelicus.com.

THE LOOSE END OF THE RAINBOW
Author: D. B.PACINI
Singing Moon Press LLC
Sioux Falls, USA


Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Readers of THE BIG BLUE BALL will appreciate this Native American proverb that begins THE LOOSE END OF THE RAINBOW. The book is also from the USA, this one set among the Native American first citizens, otherwise called Indians. Summarizing the story, all adults in the village suddenly disappear, leaving White Eagle and Paints-With-Words, both 17. They lead the children of the tribe on an epic quest across ancient America, on a journey in which they are challenged by hardship, injuries, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Luckily for the Tribe of the Innocents, the two young leaders have been gifted with special powers, and unexpected allies emerge.

In a dedication to “All Children, Red, Yellow, Brown, Black and White”. author D.B. Pacini explains the book’s title:
“There are two ends of the rainbow. One is the end where there is a pot of gold. The other is the end where there is not. On that end, the sun also shines brightly after the rain, but the water-washed glorious colours spill loose upon the ground. This is the end where artists bend to dip their paintbrushes, where love promises never to die, where unicorns give rides of little fairies with tiny flowers in their hair. It is the end where talking animals, talking trees, talking rocks, and talking bees have spirited conversations. It is the end where songwriters write songs, the end where storytellers journey through time to find the beginnings of their stories, and the end where dreamers dream their most amazing dreams.”

With a premise such as this, there is much in THE LOOSE END OF THE RAINBOW to satisfy those who seek literature that uplifts the spirit and assists the struggle for the victory of Good over Evil.

The book contains many footnotes that explain in greater detail many aspects of Native American life and culture, and this makes the book an educational experience that fills in some of the blanks left by Hollywood’s ‘cowboys & Indians’ movies. As one reviewer states: “Pacini’s enchanting story reveals her love for children and her respect for North America’s original residents.”

Book available at Amazon, MySpace/DBPacini and http://www.singingmoonpress.com.

FILM NEWS
Looking forward to the premiere of “Redemption of Paradise’ the new feature from Antigua starring dancehall diva Macka Diamond. Full review in next week’s SPOTLIGHT.