On Thursday, October 27, 2016, starting at 2:00 pm, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Kingston: Filming the City. This event aims to explore the the work of filmmakers in depicting and interpreting Kingston life and its environs. Kingston: Filming the City is part of the educational programming associated with the NGJ’s current feature exhibition Kingston, Part 1: The City and Art, which opened on July 31 and will now close on November 5. The exhibition utilizes paintings, sculpture, ceramics, film and photography to explore the dynamic between Kingston’s growth as a major commercial as well as cultural centre and the development of Jamaican visual art practice and infrastructure.
The focus on film for the panel discussion was inspired by the inclusion of two motion-picture works in the exhibition: Chaotic Beauty (2016), a video by emerging Jamaican digital artist Di-Andre Caprice Davis, and The Harder They Come (1972), the iconic Jamaican film directed by Perry Henzell and written by himself and Trevor Rhone. Both of these productions have featured Kingston not just as a backdrop to story-telling, but as a key location element that informs narrative progression and character development. Some have argued that The Harder They Come is also a portrait of Kingston and a time-capsule representation of urban life in Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Kingston has featured in several other memorable, locally produced and international films, including the first James Bond film Dr No (1962), Rockers (1978), Dancehall Queen (1997), Third World Cop (1999), Better Mus’ Come (2010) and Kingston Paradise (2013). Kingston also serves as the locale and backdrop to numerous Jamaican and other music videos, such as Proteje’s Kingston Be Wise (2013).
The discussion on October 27 will be moderated by lecturer of Audio-Visual History at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Dr. Julian Cresser, along with the following panellists:
- Franklyn “Chappy” St. Juste, veteran cinematographer who has been credited in films such as The Harder They Come (1972), Children of Babylon (1980) and Coolie Pink and Green (2009). St. Juste has also contributed valuable years of service to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) and the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC).
- Natalie Thompson, film producer and managing director of Cinecom. Some of Thompson’s acclaimed productions have included Third World Cop (1999), Knight and Day (2010) and the Marley documentary (2012).
- Nile Saulter, cinematographer and film director as well as founding member of New Caribbean Cinema. Some of his notable productions include Coast (2011), Pillowman (2013) and Everblessed (2016), a collaboration between himself and Canadian journalist Jeremy Relph.
- Randall Richards, emerging photographer, videographer and one of the founders of ARRC Creative Media Ltd. Richards’ recent productions have included the music video for music single by Reggae artiste Protogé, Kingston Be Wise (2013).
Also as an accompanying mini-campaign to the Kingston: Filming The City panel discussion, persons are being invited to create 10 to 20 second videos about Kingston and post them to the NGJ Education Department Facebook page, using the hashtag #ngjkingstonfilm. The final day for posting will be on November 4, 2016. All posts will be reviewed by the National Gallery of Jamaica before appearing on the page’s timeline.
The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the Kingston, Part 1: The City and Art exhibition.
Nile Saulter – Pillowman (2013), video still
Nile Saulter is a cinematographer, director, editor, and founding member of New Caribbean Cinema. He graduated from the New York Film Academy at King’s College, London in 2004. His commercial clients include Pepsi, Gatorade, Red Bull, Digicel, PSI and Island Outpost. His short films have been exhibited at The British Museum in London and the Michael Werner Gallery in New York, and screened at festivals in Toronto, Nigeria, Trinidad, Barbados, Cuba, St Lucia, Jamaica, and London, where his short film Coast won the award for Best Cinematography at the Portobello Film Festival in 2011. He has directed and codirected music videos for Bounty Killer and Skygrass, in addition to creating video art. Nile recently returned from Senegal, where he conducted interviews and shot footage for the Puma-sponsored One People documentary project to commemorate Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary. He’s recently gotten into fashion film productions also, and has shot two for the Lubica and We Are Massiv brands respectively. Nile has just completed his first feature film script for which pre-production will begin in the summer of 2013.
Nile Saulter – Pillowman (2013), video still
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
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.
This video by young Jamaican film maker Storm Saulter, director of the feature film Better Must Come, vividly documents the excitement of the Young Talent V opening function on May 16, 2010.
Posted with permission from Storm Saulter (and with thanks!)
Sections of Young Talent V – the exhibitions by Ebony G. Patterson, Oliver Myrie, Dion “Sand” Palmer, Christopher Harris, and Caroline “Sardine” Bops — have been held over until August 28.