LargeUp Interview: Director Karen Marks Mafundikwa on “The Price of Memory”

December 5, 2014


LU: What has been the response to the film?

KMM:ย It has been overwhelmingly positive. I have been showing it mostly at film festivals and I had a few community and university screenings in Jamaica. At my Jamaican premiere, a diverse audience of about 300 people from all classes, races, ages and walks of life stayed for almost an hour to ask me questions afterwards. That was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Some teenagers in Jamaica told me they did not know the Jamaican or British history, or about the Rastafari missions to Africa in the 1960s. When I see it touch young people, I know I have accomplished something. My nine and eleven year old nieces watched the whole thing and loved it. As well as Simba, the young Rasta boy who we see grow up in the film. That was a pleasant surprise because I had thought it might be too heavy for someone so young. Some people like watching the life of Ras Lion and other people in the film unfold.

Two young Scottish women invited the film to Africa in Motion Film Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, on seeing it in Los Angeles at its world premiere at Pan African Film Festival. They were very passionate about it. They said they had never learned any of this history in school!ย  The best thing for me is when the film starts dialogue, and it has. Its been shown in Trinidad and Antigua and now I have invites from all over the Caribbean, US, UK, Brazil. So early next year, I will do a US and a UK tour and we are organizing to show it across the Caribbean and Brazil. I just finished the Spanish version, which will premiere at Havana Film Festival this weekend.

LU: What sort of dialogue has the film provoked?

KMM:ย I have heard people talking again about: How could reparations work, the logistics of it. It has started debate about whether Caribbean governments should be pursuing it. It has also spurred people to discuss Jamaica dropping Queen Elizabeth II as symbolic head of state. I have personally experienced Jamaican people telling me they now understand the Rastafari call for repatriation.

LU: What do you say to others who are also fighting for reparations but are losing hope?

KMM:ย If you look at what has happened in the US, with youths organizing around Ferguson and in Brazil with their movements for equality, reparations is alive. Itโ€™s just not being called reparations. This generation is ready to create change. Everywhere you look where slavery lasted for hundreds of years, African diaspora populations living with its legacy are moving to create change. I think the increased attention in the US from films like Slavery By Another Name, and others as well as scholarship and popular writing, shows that the idea of reparations is not going away. It reappears in cycles because it is embedded in the psyche. The struggle continues.