‘Ol’ pirates yes they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships.…’ BOB MARLEY
In a shocking development, while the organizers of the Jamaica Reggae Film Festival have been waiting since October 2011 on the promise of a contract from a British organization to bring the event to London for the Olympics and Jamaica 50 celebrations, the England-based organizers have instead pirated the Reggae Film Festival concept, booked reggae films directly and designed a new logo that advertises the Reggae Film Festival as part of a British event that competes with the official Jamaica 50 celebrations being held at the O2 Arena.
Festival Jamaica 2012, scheduled to begin July 27 in Stratford, London, is organized by UK-based Ziggi Golding and a British team. The event website advertises a Jamaica Film Festival and a Reggae Film Festival as key events of an 11 day programme. The event, which promises to be an annual activity that will tour the UK and Europe promoting Jamaica, has no official Jamaica approval or endorsement.
RFF STILL WAITING FOR PROMISED CONTRACT
In correspondence with RFF organizer Barbara Blake Hannah and Festival Jamaica organizer Golding dating back to June 2011, the Reggae Film Festival was invited to be a pivotal event of the Festival Jamaica 2012 activity and advertised on its website. However, despite scores of emails over 12 months from Mrs. Hannah to Ms. Golding while the RFF was being advertised on the Festival website, the last promise of a contract and payment for the RFF to be part of the event was made on July 9.
On July 14 the Festival Jamaica website was unveiled with a new Reggae Film Festival logo, a list of films to be shown and information that the film festival is being programmed by an employee of the BBC whose media center is housed at the Festival Jamaica 2012 venue, along with the CNN news studio. The website informs that the 11 days of the Jamaica/Reggae Film Festival will be curated by Maxine Watson, BBC Commissioning Executive for Documentary on BBC One, from the archive of BBC, Independent features, informational and sponsored films.
Films to be shown include ROCKERS, by Greek-American director Ted Bafaloukas; the films LIFE & DEBT, H2 WORKER and AFRICA UNITE by American Stephanie Black; Chris Blackwell’s DANCEHALL QUEEN and COUNTRYMAN.
IMITATION SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY? Since its inception in 2008 the Reggae Film Festival has been imitated all over the world. In the past five years several Caribbean islands have copied Jamaica’s lead and started film festivals, while in Amsterdam a Dutch company has been hosting an annual screening of films with Jamaican themes and topics, some of which it produces and distributes. This week a ‘German-Jamaican society’ advertised it will present “The FIRST OFFICIAL JAMAICA FILM FESTIVAL” in Frankfurt in October as its Jamaica 50 tribute.
An important feature of the programme proposed by the RFF was the screening of 15 award-winning CINE JAMAICA short, animated and feature films by new, young Jamaican film makers to give an opportunity for their work to gain international attention at the Olympic event. “Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but not the most honourable,” says RFF Director Blake-Hannah. “This piracy of the Reggae Film Festival concept is a real slap in the face for the indigenous Jamaican film industry that is struggling to survive and find resources to capture and tell Jamaican stories. It’s wonderful to see that we have inspired these events, but at the same time it’s a shame that year after year we struggle to find the support in Jamaica that these international events have. ”
The REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL officially registered its name and logo with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) in 2008, but registration in Jamaica does not provide international protection. The Jamaica Film Academy committee is considering what steps should now be taken.