JAMAICA INTERNATIONAL REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL
History In the decades since 1972 when Jamaica’s first feature film “THE HARDER THEY COME” exposed the island’s reggae music to the world on its soundtrack, a growing number of films have been made that focus on or include aspects of Jamaica’s music culture. In 2008 a collection of new films of this genre were gathered together in one place for three nights of the first ever REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL held at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, February 25th-27th.
Organized as a feature of the first Reggae Month by the Jamaican Ministry of Culture with the co-sponsorship of private sector companies, the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL 2008 presented 20 films over three nights in the presence of film makers and actors from Jamaica, Spain, Germany, the UK, USA, Canada and Britain — some of whom came specially to bring their films to the Festival. On closing night six film pioneers were inducted as the first Executive Directors of a Jamaica Film Academy and the Reggae Film Festival was declared a success.
AWARD WINNING FILMS Several of the films shown then and in the five succeeding festivals have received international exposure and distribution as a result of the international media coverage of the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL over the years, including the German feature film ‘ALMOST HEAVEN” , the reggae documentary “DUB ECHOES”, the award-winning cricket documentary ”FIRE IN BABYLON” and the Feature films “WAH DO DEM”, ‘A DANCE FOR GRACE” and “CONCRETE JUNGLE – KINGSTON 12″, each of which won Reggae Film Festival Honour Awards before going on to international fame.
In 2010 the RFF introduced the annual Make A Film In 24 Hours competition, which has proved popular and successful in giving new and upcoming Jamaican film makers a chance to test their film skills and brought them to public attention and new projects. The RFF has also unearthed and showcased the surprising talents of a growing number of 2- and 3-D animators, as well as several ‘urban guerilla’ Jamaican film makers who honed their talents on camdorders recording weddings and graduations, before venturing out to make their first experimental, but admirable feature films. The BEST OF THE FEST international tour has screened award-winning films in London, Birmingham, Kent, Spain and Serbia.
OCHO RIOS – In 2013 the festival moved to a new date – August 1-5 in Jamaica’s Independence holiday Week – and a new venue — the Island Village Shopping and Entertainment Mall located on a white sand beach in the heart of the Ocho Rios tourist resort. Home of the Reggae Xplosion interactive tech exhibition of Jamaica’s reggae music history, the landmark venue is home to the tribute statue of Bob Marley by sculptor Christopher Gonzales. The shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars of Island Village surround a broad lawn and a wide stage on which films were presented.
The 2013 RFF screened documentary, feature and animated films from Jamaica, Austria, Belize, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Israel, and the USA. The 2013 event introduced a Music Video Competition, selected by votes, and specially honoured Women In Film, with a memorial tribute to the late Jamaican actress Madge Sinclair.
BEST OF THE FEST – US TOUR In 2014 the Jamaica International REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL moves to the United States, presenting the first US showcase of Reggae Film Festival films in San Diego, California, May 16-18 at the World Beat Cultural Center in the city’s central Balboa Park.
The three-day BEST OF THE FEST showcase will be presented at the invitation of Makeda ‘Dread’ Makossa, Executive Director of the World Beat Center and organizer of the 30-year stellar reggae event Tribute to Reggae Legends/Bob Marley Day Music festival held annually in the reggae-loving city of San Diego. The World Beat Center is a non-profit multi-cultural arts organization dedicated to promoting, presenting & preserving the African & Indigenous cultures of the world through Music, Art, Dance, Education & Technology and showcases continuous programmes in all the arts.
The BEST OF THE FEST will screen features, documentaries, shorts, animation and music videos from the archive of films from Jamaica and the world entered in the 6-year REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL, and is expected to provide opportunities for US exposure and distribution, especially of films by Jamaican film makers.
THANK YOU The Jamaica Film Academy thanks all its supporters, friends and helpers over the years, and looks forward to a bigger and better JAMAICA INTERNATIONAL REGGAE FILM & MUSIC FESTIVAL 2015.
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