Friday, February 21, 2014
FILM-MAKER Mary Wells may be a happy woman after her movie, Kingston
Paradise, won the Festival Programmers Award — Narrative Feature at last
Sunday’s Pan American Film Festival in Baldwin Hills, California.
However, she is quick to point out “there were no giddy, childlike emotions.”
For Wells, making movies is serious business.
makes a film and must enter international film festivals for marketing
and publicity purposes and (if lucky) for distribution possibilities,”
she said. “Today, most film festivals are ‘trade fairs’; it’s an
important platform to get your work out there and be seen and
Kingston Paradise was nominated alongside films from the United States and South Africa.
For Wells, Kingston Paradise, which stars Christopher Daley, Munair Zacca, Camille Small and Gregory Nelson, earned the judges respect because of its story and power of the characters.
“They make the film, it’s powerful because of them. The story, while
simple and not unfamiliar is far more than meets the eye,” she reasoned.
“And I am truly grateful , that an International jury and audience
understood the story. And really understood the film. And most of all,
understood an important black film from the developing world and from
Filmed entirely in downtown
Kingston, Kingston Paradise is centred on Rocksy, a taxi driver who
survives the edgy streets of the Jamaican capital by ‘hustling and
With his prostitute Rosie and friend Malt, he dreams of making it big and enjoying the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle.
critics who are weary of the ‘gritty ghetto stories and images’ out of
Jamaica, Wells says film-makers must respond to their environment.
in Kingston, Wells was trained in the United States and has over 20
years in the film industry under her belt. While she believes the
Jamaican film industry is ‘alive’ the jury is still out on whether it is
“Structures need to be put in place on a national level to develop a local industry. And that means we’d have to be serious,” she said. “At the moment, people like me are operating in a vast sea or desert, absolutely alone, in a ‘hit or miss’ situation.”