Visual Culture: Jamaica Reggae Film Festival

April 29, 2011

Words by Jesse Serwer

It’s been a big year for the intersection of Caribbean music and movies, from the smart reggae-and-calypso soundtrack in British director Stevan Riley’s outstanding West Indies cricket documentary Fire in Babylon (not to mention its well-drawn connection between the West Indies cricket team’s ascension and the rise of reggae music) to the recent news that Justine Henzell, daughter of the late The Harder They Come director Perry Henzell, will oversee a remake of Jamaica’s most seminal film. Adding to the momentum, this week the Jamaica Film Academy announced the slate for its fourth Jamaica Reggae Film Festival May 23-27.

The event, which in previous years has helped launch Brazilian director Bruno Natal’s Dub Echoes documentary and the Jamaica-set, American-produced feature Wah Do Dem, this year moves to a new home at Studio 38 in Kingston. The slate includes a mix of Caribbean-made films and internationally produced movies on Caribbean culture and music. Among those fitting into the latter category are two documentaries we’ve told you about in this space recently: the BBC’s Reggae Britannia, about reggae’s impact in the UK, and Bob Marley: Making of a Legend, featuring newly re-discovered early footage of the Wailers, from Jamaican-born, England-based actress (and former Bob Marley flame) Esther Anderson. On the fiction front, selections include a film version of the stage play Room For Rent and Rocksteadyโ€”The Movie, a car racing movie about a Jamerican driver soundtracked by Steel Pulse. We’re most encouraged, though, by the inclusion of shorts from Alison and Anief Latchman’s Jamaican animation series Cabbie Chronicles. Check Youtube if you’re not already up to di time on this show, or check back with LargeUpโ€”we’ll be filling you in more on this hilarious series soon.