Film buzz (May/June 2007)

Storm Saulter stirring up the Jamaican film industry, and in Roots Time, rastafarians rule

Roots Time flyer. Photograph courtesy Mistika FilmsStorm Saulter behind the camera on the Better Mus Come set. Photograph courtesy Firefly FilmsWoolton Harrison a.k.a. Jah Bull in a scene from Roots Time. Photograph courtesy Mistika Films

STORM BREWING

Storm Saulter is stirring things up in Jamaica’s developing film industry.

The 23-year-old recently wrapped production on his second feature film, Better Mus Come, a love story, based on true events, set against the political and cultural turmoil of the 1970s.

The first chapter of the film premiered at the Flashpoint Film Festival, and Storm was named Best Director for his work.

Better Mus Come is a rhetorical question,” Saulter explained. “It is set at the height of Jamaica’s political tensions. A young man is affiliated with one of the parties, one of the tribes, and he sees the folly of it all. It all starts to come apart for him. So the question comes: when push comes to shove, who do you really stand for? Is it your blood family? Your tribe? The person that you love?

“In a way I think we are still struggling with many of those issues, those same questions, in Jamaica.”

Storm was trained at the Los Angeles Film School, graduating in 2001 from the Film Immersion Program.

During an apprenticeship with Little X (Julien Lutz, Trinidadian-Canadian music video director) he had the opportunity to work with Busta Rhymes and Wyclef Jean.

His first feature film, Twang!, an ambitious romantic comedy, premiered at the Flashpoint Film Festival in 2005.

Tracy Assing

www.flashpointfestival.com


 

MOVIE OF JAH PEOPLE

Two irritable, middle-aged dreadlocks from small-town Jamaica, Jah Bull and Baboo are not your average movie heroes. Indeed, after the seminal Jamaican cinematic works of the 1970s, such as The Harder They Come and Rockers, few rastafarian characters have enjoyed anything other than incidental roles on screen. Yet in Roots Time, an award-winning debut feature by Argentine director Silvestre Jacobi, nearly every participant is a rasta, their portrayals all the more believable because the cast includes non-professional actors who are basically playing themselves. The renowned musicians of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari also make a momentary guest appearance.

Shot in the Jamaican countryside in a minimalist style, Roots Time is the kind of film where not that much actually happens; mostly, the camera simply follows Baboo and Bull as they wander around sparse rural communities, trying to barter tatty reggae records from a thoroughly decrepit automobile, all the while bombarding locals with their views of the world through an oversize loudspeaker mounted on the roof. Eventually they happen upon local DJ Farmer Roots, whose girlfriend is ill and needs to get to the hospital, but as the pair are wary of “chemicals”, they opt to deliver the patient instead to celebrated herbalist Bongo Hu. A zany sequence of events subsequently unfolds, as locating the herbalist proves anything but straightforward.

Roots Time has a certain realism that captures the feel of rural Jamaica’s slow pace and isolation; beautiful shots of the lush countryside and red earth over which the journey is made bring home the remoteness and unspoilt nature of the place. Winner of a Best First Feature award at last year’s Portobello Film Festival, the film will be distributed throughout Latin America, with further deals pending for other territories.

For more information, go to: www.mistikafilms.com

David Katz