Introducing Countryman (Dir: Dickie Jobson, 1982)

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The NGJ is planning to develop a Caribbean film programme and, eventually also, collection and as our first steps in this direction, we have started integrating film screenings into our Last Sundays programme. We started with Storm Saulter’s Better Mus’ Come in January and have continued today with an earlier Jamaican film Dickie Jobson’s Countryman (1982). Below is Nicole Smythe-Johnson’s introduction to the film and its relevance to the themes of the Natural Histories exhibition.

You could describe Countryman (1982) as one of two things, depending on how generous you’re feeling. You could call it a B movie … or you could call it an arthouse film. To my mind, those descriptions are equally appropriate, though the self-proclaimed “a bush movie’ is probably best.

This is a ninety-minute, overtly low budget film made in Jamaica in 1982. Though there is some gratuitous nudity – early in the film, the female lead (Kristina St Clair) surrenders her blouse to be used as a weapon against an alligator, revealing her bountiful bosom – a great deal else is happening here. There are the stunning vistas, mystical aspects and a narrative that is almost anti-progress, unusual in early 80s Jamaica. For me, all this does not fully emancipate Countryman from B movie status but makes it endearingly so. In the vein of other cult classics such as The Little Shop of Horrors or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is refreshingly off-beat.

The director of the film- the late, great Richard ”Dickie” Jobson – was a close friend of both Perry Henzell and Chris Blackwell. So Countryman is very much part of that moment of indigenous film exploration that produced the earlier and more popular The Harder They Come (1972). Born in St Ann, Jobson lived in England for much of his life working with the Island group of companies, including a stint as Bob Marley’s manager. Countryman was Jobson’s only feature film, though at the time of his death in December 2008 he was said to be working on a screenplay based on Bob Marley’s song Mr Brown. Continue reading

Last Sundays: January 27, 2013 – featuring Better Mus’ Come

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The NGJ is continuing its Last Sundays programme, whereby it is open every last Sunday of the month, in addition to its regular opening hours, and will thus be open to the public on January 24, 2013, from 11 am to 4 pm.

As a special feature, the NGJ will be screening of the Jamaican feature film Better Mus’ Come (2010), which will start at 1:30 pm. Better Mus’ Come is a dramatic love story framed by a fictionalized account of the political violence of the 1970s in Jamaica. Directed by Storm Saulter and written by Joshua Bratter, Paul Bucknor, and Storm Saulter, the film has received significant acclaim and received the Best Feature Awards at Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and Bahamas International Film Festival, the Best Director Award at the Pan-African Film Festival, and the Best Actor Award at American Black Film Festival. The film has also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute. The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) recently announced the launch of its new label, ARRAY, dedicated to multi-platform distribution of black independent film and the label’s first acquisition is Better Mus’ Come, for all US distribution rights.

Visitors will also be able to view the 2012 National Biennial, a special performance piece by Ebony G. Patterson and the NGJ’s permanent exhibitions. Storm Saulter is in one of 86 artists represented in the Biennial.

As has become customary on Last Sundays, general admission and tours are free on that day. The film screening attracts a contribution of $ 200 per person and seating is limited to 80 persons in all, to be admitted on a “first come and first served’ basis. Tickets for the film can be purchased in advance from the NGJ – please call 922-1561 for more information.