Introducing Countryman (Dir: Dickie Jobson, 1982)

countryman

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

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National Gallery to Host KOTE for its Last Sundays Programme on June 30

Last Sundays June 30 jpeg

The National Gallery is partnering with the Kingston on the Edge urban arts festival in presenting its Last Sundays programme on June 30.

As has now become customary every last Sunday of the month, the Gallery will be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm, with free admission and free tours and children’s activities. The special programming on June 30 will have two special features: a dance performance by Neila Ebanks titled Becoming: The Body Remembers and Breaks the Silence, which starts at 1:30 pm, followed by the Jamaican feature film Countryman (1982), which starts at 2 pm. June 30 is also the closing day of the current Natural Histories exhibition, which explores natural history themes and tropes in Jamaican art from the 17th century to the present.

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