Rototom Reggae Sunsplash, Reggae Film Festival

  ROTOTOM REGGAE SUNSPLASH

 Reggae fans who recall the vibe and objectives of the original Reggae Sunsplash will be happy to know that the memory lives on after 16 years of Rototom Reggae Sunsplash, undoubtedly the biggest reggae gathering in Europe. The event now attracts around130,000 people every year from 120 countries, a peaceful army of reggae lovers who gather for 10 days from August 21 to 28 to celebrate Jamaica’s music and culture.

In addition to the festival’s role as an honoured European ambassador for the Jamaican reggae scene, through all the collateral activities it has also become a legitimate voice for peace, human rights, sustainable development and positivity – in a conscious effort to build “Un altro mondo possible” (another possible world). With such noble ambitions, it is no wonder that Rototom has maintained the loyalty of thousands of European reggae fans, despite its move this year from its original home in Italy, to Benicassim, Spain.

This year’s line-up of reggae artists, headed by Alpha Blondy, Anthony B, Albarosie, veterans Big Youth and Bob Andy, Fanton Mojah, Queen Ifrica, Busy Signal, Bushman, Tony Rebel and newcomer Romain Virgo is certain to please. Other stars booked to perform on the 8-night event include the Mighty Diamonds, Chuck Fender, Marcia Griffiths, Aswad, Etana and the Abyssians.

The move from Italy to Spain was caused by what the organisers call “the intolerance of Italian politics towards models of society that values different cultures and multi-racialism.” Spain, they state, has proven to be more democratic and more open to cultural diversity and therefore, the ideal environment for the festival to continue on its mission whilst protecting the rights of its public. Benicassim, situated on the Mediterranean coast in the province of Castellon just 88km from Valencia, was finally chosen as the location for the 2010 edition of Rototom especially because of its proximity to the nearby beach — fulfilling Rototom’s promise this year to provide ‘reggae, sea and sun’.

In addition to performances on the Main Stage, a second large stage called the Lion Stage as a symbol of youth in Rasta culture, will showcase an exclusive line up of bands and artists, both new and well established, who will perform from late afternoon and until dawn to give a spotlight to the energy and creativity of up and coming artists, taking a break only while the Main Stage concerts are on.

Other attractions include the finals of the European Reggae contest between winning bands from across Europe, while in the hours after performances end on the Main Stage, patrons can enjoy red hot nights in the Dancehall Tent with international DJ stars playing a variety of music styles, from bashment to roots and dub. The shows in the dancehall last until dawn: the flames of lighters in the air, whistles and blasts, and the latest dance steps… it’s just like being in Jamaica.

 As well as the musical events, the festival will once again feature meetings, debates, courses, art exhibitions, films and documentaries, meditation seminaries, holistic therapies and many other activities grounded in reggae culture, largely presented by non profit organisations. A Reggae University will present speakers and invite discussion on reggae-related issues and for the first time the Reggae Film Festival from Jamaica will present a 3-night programme of films from its archive.

The objectives of Rototom Sunsplash in this new phase are to remain true to its history despite the new location, bringing the Spanish reggae scene opportunity to bridge the gap between Europe and the Caribbean. Spain enjoys close ties with Jamaica through the presence of leading Spanish-owned hotels and a proactive Spanish Ambassador who has made significant contributions to Jamaican cultural and historical activities.

Advance ticket sales are going well, and everything is in place as Rototm and Benicassim, Spain await the 17th staging of Reggae Sunsplash.

 

REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL AT ROTOTOM

The organisers of Rototom Reggae Sunsplash 2010 have invited the Jamaica Film Academy director Barbara Blake Hannah to present a 3-night programme of ‘the Best of the Reggae Film Festival’  (see Full Programme here). 

Since 1972 when Jamaica’s first feature film “The Harder They Come” exposed reggae to the world on its soundtrack, a growing number of films have been made that focus on Jamaica’s reggae music culture. In 2008 these ‘Reggae Films’ were gathered together in one place for the first ever REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL, held in New Kingston in February as part of Reggae Month.

The event was organized by a collaboration between Jamaican film maker and film festival organizer Barbara Blake Hannah and British film archivist Peter Gittins of REGGAE FILMS UK, with support from private sector sponsors and the Jamaican Ministry of Culture. Sixteen feature and documentary films from Spain, Germany, Argentina, Canada, the UK and the USA were screened, at the end of which 6 Jamaican film pioneers appointed to head a Jamaica Film Academy dedicated to the objectives of the Jamaican film industry.

In 2009 a smaller programme premiered films from the USA, Serbia and a Spanish/Jamaican sports documentary that went on to win several international awards.  

In 2010 the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL was held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, where the Jonkanoo Lounge was transformed into a cinema for nightly screenings of 22 films, a special daytime Children’s Programme and a Make A Film In 24 Hours competition. In the presence of film makers from Japan, Germany, USA, Hawaii, Canada and the UK, the 2010 festival specially featured entries of 10 new Jamaican films and the coming together of a New Jamaican Cinema movement of several new Jamaican film makers, producers and actors. For the first time, the Reggae Film Festival presented Honour Awards in several categories of features, documentaries, animation, music videos and short films.

'Kina Sky'
Lee 'Scratch' Perry

Among the films to be shown are the Argentinian feature  film ‘ Roots Time“, award winning Japanese documentary “Ruffn Tuff – Founders of the Immortal Riddim’, a German documentary on Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the animated film ‘Kina Sky” and “Not To Me“, the first feature film by noted Jamaican film maker Ras Kassa.  Though only 3 years old and operating without sponsors or funding, the Reggae Film Festival has made an impact in Jamaica and internationally. Not only have film makers from all over the globe entered their films and travelled to Jamaica to present them and win awards, but the event has come to the notice of global reggae fans, international media and cultural organisations, several of which have established links for future collaboration.

The directors of the Jamaica Film Academy and Reggae Film Festival are honoured by the invitation and recognition by Rototom Reggae Sunsplash.

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BOOKS.

LIFELINES: The Black Book of Proverbs.  Askhari Johnson Hodari & Yvonne McCalla Sobers. Foreward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Review: ‘This little book contains the wisdom of the ages and is guaranteed to produce a smile of appreciation at the sheer sense of the proverbs you will find inside.  from advice you wish your mother had given you to things you probably suspected but never put into words, Lifelines is a book to be read, absoerbed and treasured.

THE HILLS OF HEBRON: Sylvia Wynter. Ian Randle Publishers.

The story of a group of formerly enslaved Jamaicans attempting to create a new life and assert themselves against the colonial power.  Based on the life of Revivalist preacher Alexander Bedward, the novelwritten in the late 1950s is the first attempt to present the lives of Black Jamaicans as independent human beings.

Author Professor Sylvia Wynter is one of Jamaica’s senior literary and cultural scholars, founder of Jamaica Journal and author of several major essays on Jamaican culture, history and literature, as well as several plays.

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