REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL set to be the best ever

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land of look behind posterThe 2013 Jamaica International REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL is set to be the best in the 6-year history of the event, says Festival Director Barbara Blake Hannah. The popular event takes place in Ocho Rios during Independence Week August 1-5 at the Island Village shopping and entertainment mall at the Cruise Ship Pier. With an outdoor stage and lawn surrounded by a variety of shops, restaurants and bars, Island Village is also home of the Cove Cinema and the Reggae Revolution interactive exhibition of reggae music history – a fitting venue at which to screen feature, documentary, animated, short films and music videos devoted to Jamaica’s reggae culture.

The RFF pays tribute to films produced by lovers of reggae music and Jamaican culture, including feature films with reggae soundtracks, as well as films recounting the history of the music’s artists, musicians and promoters. The Jamaica International also highlights international documentaries and features of interest to Caribbean audiences.

TofFEATURE FILMS   This year’s feature films include an innovative Black British comedy and Jamaica’s first ‘horror movie’, and an unusual feature from the Rasta counter-culture of Vienna, Austria. The Festival will screen documentaries on Jamaica’s Maroon culture, the architectural roots of Trench Town, and an entertaining new look at Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt. The Festival’s first entry from Israel is a documentary on reggae icon Joe ‘Culture’ Hill, the late Nigerian literary giant Chinua Achebe is honoured, while the USA’s entry focuses on New York’s Ground Zero.

team XCINE JAMAICA     Of special importance is the festival’s CINE JAMAICA category of films by young Jamaican film makers, whose short features and animations have brought attention to a growing group of directors, scriptwriters, animators and producers. London’s Portobello Film Festival will showcase a CINE JAMAICA night of films later this year. The RFF introduces a new category of Awards for Music Videos, the starting point and source of income for many Jamaican film makers. Among the entries is a video from Natural Dub, a Costa Rican reggae band. Public votes will select the winner of Top Ten nominees.

Dear Jesus PosterWOMEN IN FILM   The 2013 JIRFF pays tribute to Women In Film, honouring the late Jamaican actress Madge Sinclair by showcasing the work of several female film makers. These include Danielle Scott-Haughton, director of the TV Series “DEAR JESUS”, Mitzie Allen, co-director of HAMA FILMS, Antigua, whose feature ‘THE SKIN‘ will open the Festival, Patrice Johnson, director of the feature HILL & GULLY, Paulette King, director of “FORGIVENESS – LESSONS OF LIFE”, while RHONA FOX, actress and CEO of FoxFuse artist management company will be a member of the festival Jury.


MIDNIGHT MOVIES    Other activities of the 2013 Festival include the annual Make A Film In 24 Hours competition, whose teams will set off at midday Saturday August 2 from Island Village and return on Sunday with their completed 5-minute film. There will be daily seminars on various aspects of films and filming, while Midnight Movies on Saturday night will present a special screening of the Usain Bolt documentary and a feature film at the spectacular Ocho Rios attraction Mystic Mountain. The JIRFF Awards will be presented Tuesday, August 5, followed by an After Party and Dance on the ISLAND VILLAGE lawn, as Independence Day dawns on Jamaica.

Sponsors of the RFF are Island Village, Jamaica Tourist Board, Marley Coffee, Mystic Mountain and the Jamaica Film Academy.

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Ol’ pirates yes they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships.…’ BOB MARLEY

Ziggi Golding

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.


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.