Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lignum Vitae Film Festival, Mandeville, Jamaica

        Once again I depart from my usual themes, this time to write about the Annual Symposium and Lignum Vitae Film Festival on Tuesday, April 10 (the day after Easter Monday), and Wednesday, April11, 2012, hosted by The Department of Communication Studies at Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica. The event is open to the public at a cost of $7000.00 and $5000.00 for students with ID which covers both days and lunch. The Lignum Vitae Film Festival carries a stand alone cost and is priced at $3000 general and $1,500 for students with ID
        In the same way as children’s books by Jamaican authors don’t hit the headlines, neither do locally produced films or their creators. All this could change with more exposure in the local media and on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
       This year’s Symposium and Film Festival is an event not to be missed, if last year’s is anything to go by. I quote from the Daily Gleaner, on the 2011 staging:
       "We certainly upped the ante this year, we have judges in the persons of Kim-Marie Spence, film commissioner, JAMPRO; Ransford Ricketts, CVM programme manager; Winford Williams from Onstage; Gillian McDaniel, JAMPRO; and Nicola Carara, independent film producer; high-calibre productions and an evening of excitement and the lighting of Wish Balloons- simply awesome - all set against an African-inspired décor," said Elaine Oxamendi Vicet, Department Chair for Communication Studies.
       The festival showcased student productions in the categories of short feature films, promotional videos, trailers and commercials, which were all carefully guided by Dannie Barrett, who emceed the proceedings.
The short feature films had the audience laughing, bewildered and in some instances awestruck.
       "I simply would not have missed it," said Oliver Watt, director of communications in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, representing Minister Olivia Grange.
       The judges' overall remarks on the productions were positive, and in the words of chief judge, Kim Marie Spence, "It wasn't easy making the decisions, as the films were very good. We would like to make special mention of Entreaty by TY-Production… and we would also commend Gordon Alert, film instructor at UTech, for the effort he made with the posters…"
      The winners were as follows:
Jason 'Beans' Sawyers, producer of the HIV commercial, won most of the awards, including best overall film, best edited film, best sound and lighting as well as best promo DVD.
Best Actor went to Demphsen, for his role as the pastor in the short feature film LAN Party.
Nazila Mais copped the best actress award.
Yorkwin Walters walked away with the best trailer and storyline award for his entry, Mission 339. The judges pick for the evening went to TY-Productions' Unconditional Love, which got the best short film award.

       The theme of the 2012 symposium is “Modern Media Influencing Public Policy and Opinion”. An invitation was extended to all students, faculty, administrators and staff of secondary and tertiary institutions in CARICOM and the Americas and other interested persons to submit papers which should have been received by Dec 22, 2011; and for students to submit videos in the categories Short Film, Silent Film, Documentaries, Animation and Music.

       This year's event is broken into keynote addresses, workshops and the film festival. Kay Osborne has been confirmed as one of the keynote speakers. Until recently, Ms. Osborne was the general Manager of TVJ, which she steered to unprecedented level of profitability. Prior to returning to Jamaica in 2004, she served in executive leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies all over the United States and has led strategic initiatives in more than 40 countries worldwide. She holds degrees from Northwestern University (Illinois, USA) and the Mona School of Business (UWI) and is a fine artist and playwright.

The workshops are being hosted by the best of the best, including Susan Flanagan and Slavik Anishchenko. Workshop participants will surely be excited about their opportunity.
   Susan Flanagan is the President & Executive Producer for Creative Entertainment & Media (CEM) Inc. She is an Emmy Award Winning Writer and has won several awards for her innovative work as a film and television producer. As an Executive Producer, Show Runner and Writer, she has created and produced shows for all of the major networks and many of the cable stations including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, TLC and Discovery.
   Slavik Anishchenko, also with CEM, is an accomplished and accredited producer, animator, digital artist and film director. He visualized action sequences for Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers and The Mummy.

I encourage everyone with an interest in Caribbean films to attend.

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