FESTIVAL DIRECTOR – BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH
BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH , Executive Director of the Jamaica Film Academy, is an author, film maker and cultural consultant. Managing Director of Jamaica Media Productions Ltd., a company producing films, publishing books and engaging in multimedia consultancy. She is Director of the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival held annually and has produced the 1974-77 Jamaica Film Festival, 1976 Cuban Film Week, CARIFESTA ‘76 Film Festival, 1985 Film Festival of the World Festival of Youth & Culture.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, she was educated at Hampton High School, Wolmers Girls School, (Jamaica) and the London Institute of Public Relations.
BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH has worked in the film and television production industry for more than 30 years, beginning with on-the-job training in Britain as a TV reporter and interviewer-producer on THAMES TV (‘Today with Eammon Andrews’), BBC-TV (“Man Alive”), and ATV (‘ATV Today’). She was the International PR officer for the 1972 launch of “The Harder They Come” in Jamaica, London, the Venice & Cork (Ireland) Film Festivals.
As cultural consultant,since 1972, she has worked in the Office of three Jamaican Prime Ministers (Michael Manley, Edward Seaga, Bruce Golding), with the Jamaica Tourist Board, and as Director of Public Relations for the City of Kingston, among other assignments. In 1984-87 she was appointed by the Governor General to serve as an Independent Senator in the Jamaican Parliament.
In 2011 she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her pioneering work in journalism and media by the British Entertainment Film, Television & Theatre Awards (BEFFTA). She is also the recipient of a United Nations Peace Medal (1974) and an Ethiopian Crown Council Adowa Centenary Medal (1997).
FILMS BY BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH
THE PEACEFUL GUN, (1977) Documentary co-production with GDR-TV, Cuban Film Institute; filmed in East Germany about the 21st Leipzig Film Festival;
“RACE, RHETORIC, RASTAFARI, (CHANNEL FOUR UK – 1983); Barbara Blake Hannah hosts an Award-winning documentary for Britain’s CHANNEL FOUR TV that reflects on her former life as a TV journalist in Britain from the perspective of her current life as a Rastafari in Jamaica. With interviews and commentary on British race relations; Music by Jimmy Cliff, I-JahMan Levi, The Rastafarians, Ras Messengers. VIEW Parts 1-5 HERE:
THE ROAD THROUGH THE BLUE MOUNTAINS OF JAMAICA – Follow a young couple as they travel the winding road up to the high altitude region where Jamaica’s famous coffee is grown. Enjoy the unique beautiful scenery, see flowers and trees that only grow at these cool temperatures, see the rain clouds sweep across the mountain peaks. Enjoy stops at world-famous Strawberry Hill Hotel, meet soldiers at the Newcastle Army Camp, ffeed hummingbirds at the Gap Cafe, walk the trails at Holywell Nature Park, see the sparkling Cascade waterfalls and the beautiful flowers at Starlight Chalet. Interviews with coffee farmer Alex Twyman and the Section community.
KIDS PARADISE 1– The Great Lost Treasure Hunt, (JBC-TV – 1992); Children’s TV drama filmed at Jamaican North Coast hotel starring 4 children, Freddie McGregor, with songs by Susan Couch and Karen Smith. Film, director and 7-year-old star guests at 1994 Chicago Children’s Film Festival -Special Audience Award.
KIDS PARADISE 2 – Shasta Runs Away, (JBC-TV – 1997); One-hour sequel filmed in Ocho Rios and Negril featuring six children, with adult stars Elise Kelly, Judy Mowatt. Screened at Auburn Film Festival, Sydney, Australia during 2000 Olympic Games.
“THE MAKING OF ‘KLA$H’, (Kingston Pictures – 1998); Documentary included in DVD package about filming of Jamaican feature film starring Jasmine Guy, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Bradshaw.
SILICON ISLAND – TechTV, (Island Films Co-production – 2001) Pilot for a Jamaican Technology TV programme with host-interviewer Makonnen Blake Hannah, government Youth Technology Consultant featuring Melissa Sconyers, US top female techie. Filmed at Golden Eye Hotel, James Bond Beach, Firefly.
BY THE LAND WE LIVE – (JBC-TV – 1987); Student tutorial documentary on newly opened Jamaica College of Agriculture in Portland, featuring students as cast and crew.
ARTISTS IN DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP – (UNESCO – 2002); 18-minute documentary on the 10-day Caribbean Music Expo retreat for 23 young Caribbean musicians and producers to learn professional skills from music industry experts, filmed and edited by end of Workshop. Screened on RE-TV.
BOOKS BY BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH
RASTAFARI – THE NEW CREATION, published in 1982, was the first book written by a practising member of the Jamaican religious movement. Chapters on Emperor Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, The Holy Bible, the Ganja Sacrament, White Rastas & more, It has been updated and re-published in 7 editions. Review by Laurie Wheeler: “This is a very well written book that helps to explain the true goals, history, and truth of the Rastafarian. I love the way it addressed both the good and the bad. The truth and the myth.”
JOSEPH – A RASTA REGGAE FABLE, a novel set in Jamaica in the 1970s inspired by the life of her friend Bob Marley. 4 Editions, including MacMillan Caribbean. Review by Midnight Raver: “Not all Bob Marley books are biographies, photography or songbooks. One in particular that does not really fit into any category is ‘Joseph- A Rasta Reggae Fable.’ As the title suggest it is a fable about Joseph, a “fictional” musician from the Third World who rises up to worldwide fame only to ride off into the African sunset.”
HOME – THE FIRST SCHOOL, Written on her experiences gained as a pioneer of the Jamaican homeschooling movement. Her son was appointed Youth Technology consultant to the Government in 1998 at the age of 13 years. REVIEW by Dr. Alfred Sangster: “Running like a scarlet thread through the book is the theme that education has to take a different path from the chalk and talk of the traditional classroom. The book represents a challenge to the educational system and discusses whether home-schooling is possible and could be considered for any young parent.”
GROWING OUT: BLACK HAIR & BLACK PRIDE is a biography of her early life in Jamaica and her ten years living in England, where the racism she endured — especially as the first Black on British TV — inspired her to gain knowledge and pride in her Blackness — hair and all. Review by Beverly Manley: “This book is essential to black people everywhere, particularly those who went ‘home’ to their ‘mother’ in the search for who we are, for acceptance, for our identities – only to discover that the ‘mother’ didn’t want anything to do with us. Barbara’s autobiography has helped me recognise that our quest to make that trip back to Africa (physically and/or mentally) is the most fundamental task we face. It is something that has to be realised in our collective consciousness.”