Film fest aiming at A-Listers


TODAY marks 100 days to the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Film Festival. The event is set for the Corporate Area July 7-11, and the organiser -- investment engine JAMPRO -- is moving full steam ahead.

Carole Beckford, JAMPRO's manager for the creative industries and film commissioner, is optimistic about the progress she and her team are making to pull off the first event of its kind organised by the agency.

"It is a festival for persons in the local film industry to meet and connect with persons in the international set. We are close to our sponsorship target of US$400,000 to stage a good first festival... Our theme is art meets business and we want to show that Jamaica is more than just a backdrop for a film. We want to show that our content providers are as good as anywhere else; that we have writers and directors and a whole technical team. We have stories to tell so co-production deals are also part and parcel of what we are promoting with this event," she told the Sunday Observer.

Fifteen productions by Jamaican film-makers are currently being finalised to premiere at the festival in what Beckford calls the 'script to screen' project.

The call was issued in November of last year and 54 pitches were put to the festival's panel of adjudicators over three days, out of which came the final 15. These will be screened at eight venues in the city during the festival which will culminate with a glitzy awards event.

In addition to the film screening, the festival will also see a number of workshops with topics including The Business of Film-making, Financing in Film and TV, Pitching, Distribution, a bankers' forum as well as a session about the use of music in films.

"The local film community is excited about this event and have been showing great interest. However, we need our business community to see this as an opportunity for investment. The returns from the creative industries have a significant multiplier effect. Jamaica has a distinct competitive advantage, so this is a win-win situation for everyone concerned," said Beckford.

Part and parcel of the success of any film festival is the major industry players who are in attendance and Beckford gets excited when this matter arises. However, she is tight-lipped and refuses to name-drop.

"We are definitely going for the A-Listers. We will have some big-name producers, directors and actors from TV, film and comedy coming through the event," she said.

"I just want everything to be confirmed before I call names."

Beckford recently returned from hosting a reception in Los Angeles attended by film industry players in an effort to engage the Hollywood community with a focus on collaboration and partnership.

"LA was a great bridge to connect Hollywood to Jamaica. The event was co-hosted by Jamaican consul Lorna Johnson and author/film-maker/media entrepreneur Paula Madison in Beverly Hills, and served as a kick-off for the festival. We had a number of players in attendance including film directors Robert Townsend and Bill Duke; actors Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter; and studio executives Bruce Evans and Talitha Watkins," she said.

Published Date: 
Sunday, March 29, 2015