Lights, camera, film fest

Anthony Hylton (centre), minister of industry, investment and commerce, addresses a Jamaica Observer news team at Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) headquarters on Braemar Avenue in St Andrew, yesterday. The minister is flanked by film-maker Donovan Watkis and Diane Edwards, JAMPRO’s president. The discussions centred on the Jamaica Film Festival which starts today. 

JAMAICAN film-makers are being urged to see the industry as a business and work towards understanding all aspects of it in order to succeed.

This has come from president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, in the run-up to the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival, which opens in the Corporate Area today and runs until Saturday.

According to Edwards, this thrust is at the heart of the five-day event, which seeks to build the capacity of local players in the film industry.

"Film is a business. Players must understand the business behind the creativity, and that is why we have organised a really serious film festival. The creative side is not enough, what must happen is a full understanding of the industry to create long-term businesses," she told the Jamaica Observer.

She said stakeholders must make themselves professional in order to create world-class standards. She further said an understanding of distribution, copyright, and intellectual property issues are also critical in moving the industry forward.

This point was supported by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton.

He offered that Government had done, perhaps "too little" in supporting the event.

"It's not a party. What we have is a serious event like any other business. I would say there has been too little an input on the part of Government. However, credit must go to the team from JAMPRO which has been able to secure a great level of sponsorship for the festival. My ministry has pledged $5 million. We are struggling to find it, but it must be done. The fact that the private sector has come on board is a testament to what is possible," he said.

Meanwhile, film and television actress Tonya Lee Williams said there are a number of misconceptions about what a film festival should cover.

She supported the minister's notion that the festival is not a party, but rather a means through which industry players may network and learn about the industry.

"I have been attending the Toronto International Film Festival for the past 36 years, and organised by own ReelWorld Film Festival for 15 years. What I have seen is that the people who benefit are the ones who make connections over the years. For some, it took five years of attending these festivals and making contacts for anything to materialise. You have to work at it just like any other profession," she said.

During the next five days, a total of 43 films will be screened. Of this number, six are from Jamaican film-makers. Thirty-two are from international directors with Jamaican connections, while five have no local links.

A number of workshops and seminars covering all aspects of the film industry will also be staged.

Published Date: 
Tuesday, July 7, 2015