Reggae Film Festival @ Rototom, Miss Jamaica Universe


The REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL was presented in Spain last week as a special 3-night feature of the ROTOTOM REGGAE SUNSPLASH – Europe’s largest annual event celebrating Jamaica’s music culture. A special programme of feature, documentary and animation films, including 5 made by Jamaicans and some of the Honour Award winners of the February 2010 event, were presented to an interested audience in a special showcase that began after the live stage performances ended each night.

Peter Gittins & BBH, Reggae Film Festival 2008

Though the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL went to Rototom, I did not. The films were introduced each night by Peter Gittins, the UK-based co-director of the Reggae Film Festival who has been the ‘other half’ of the event since we both conceptualized it in 2007. Though I had been provided full travel and accommodation by the Rototom organizers, I could not get an early appointment for an interview to renew my US Visa before my scheduled departure date, and had to miss the flight. (Yes, I got the renewal, but a day too late!)

It was a disappointment, as I looked forward to the chance to be at Rototom in person and see and report on what the event is like. The Rototom invitation was important, because it shows the opening of an international distribution link and exposure for films from and about Jamaica. With attendance of 150,000, the enormous potential for access to the young European market was clear. Peter reports that people were so interested in everything Jamaican that we could have sold not only our films, but also products such as T-shirts, banana chips, jerk sauces,  beer, books.

The Reggae Film Festival will return to Rototom next year, and we are presently negotiating invitations to present the event in the USA and in Africa. In its 3 short years the Reggae Film Festival is fulfilling its objective of assisting the growth of the Jamaican film industry and the spread of Jamaican culture through film.




Last June at Caribbean Fashion Week a slim, sparkling Yendi Phillipps just back from South Africa posed for my camera and told me she was entering the Miss Jamaica Universe competition. I encouraged her to keep doing what she was good at. Now that Yendi’s winning appearances in the Miss Universe finals has broadcast Jamaica’s positive image around the world, those who questioned my early support for our newest Jamaican beauty queen now see what all the fuss was about.

Yendi at CFW

Looking good in all her personal appearances from the early days of the Miss Universe contest, Yendi brought a sparkling personality that showed in her bright smile, her classy poses and her charming interviews. The Judges voted her the ‘beach beauty’ and 2nd best evening gown, so when she made it to the final 5 of the judging, Jamaicans all over the world held their collective breath, bursting with pride just to see her standing there.

Then there were just two, and as Yendi stood in the spotlight with Miss Mexico, Jamaica’s hopes were high. When Miss Mexico was announced the winner, I know I am not the only Jamaican who felt the decision was wrong, but Jamaicans still smiled as it was so clear that Yendi was definitely the prettiest girl.

#2 National Costume winner

Congrats to Yendi Phillipps for joining the ranks of Jamaicans who made their country proud by showcasing what wonderful, great and beautiful people we are.



Last Wednesday the United States Embassy division of Cultural Affairs screened the classic feature film “STORMY WEATHER’ starring the late, great singer and acress, Lena Horne as part of a series of American musicals being shown each week at the Tom Redcam Library in Kingston.  The film, which was a showcase of Black American talent of the 1940s and 50s, gave the world a classic song that became forever identified with the great Black beauty and it was wonderful to see the full version of the film for the first time on a big screen with a full house audience.

Not only did the film feature Lena Horne singing several songs and dancing with Bill ‘BoJangles’ Robinson, but showcased the big band of flamboyant band leader Cab Calloway, the classical dancing of leading Black dancer Kathryn Dunham and her troupe, and the incredible tap-dancing acrobatics of the Nicholas Brothers who had the audience gasping for breath with their splits. 

The screening was a special tribute to Lena Horne and a rare opportunity to experience some of the best Black entertainment talent ever filmed by Hollywood. It brought back memories of an era of glamour and class personified by this great lady that we will never see again.   Those were the days!!!



“We are ready to go and Buju is looking forward to his day in court.”

David Oscar Markus of Buju Banton’s legal team.


2 thoughts on “Reggae Film Festival @ Rototom, Miss Jamaica Universe

  1. This is such a International Advertistment for Jamaica’s Tourism @ no cost to the department, The Minestry of Tourism @ culture should have communicate with you and ensure that the necessary documentations was in hand day before departure to utalized this Golden opportunity…. Barbara the invetation and effort is priceless thanks for having a plan B that our Island still benefitted from the exposure. Grate planning.


    • Thanks for your comments, Olivia. You know, I asked the Ministry of Culture for help, but did not get a response. Didn’t even think of asking the folks at Tourism. So good there was a backup plan. Next year will be even better.


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