The 2019th Greater August Town Film Festival (GATFFEST) kicked-off on Friday, June 21, at the UWI Mona Visitors’ Lodge, with its inaugural film market and short film pitch competition
The festival’s pioneering pitch competition had eight emerging film-makers contesting for grants to fund their proposed budget to produce a short film for GATFFEST 2020 before a panel of film professionals, and having a three-minute opportunity for a pitch. Hanif James, Kaleb D’Aguilar, and Vennessa Hanshaw who pitched A Shade of Indigo at J$350,000, Sonshine at approximately J$500,000, and A Touch of Sugar at J$1 million respectively, were named as the three Film Pitch winners.
Film commissioner Renée Robinson expressed her satisfaction with the variety of ideas pitched. Robinson said, “there is a lot of creativity that identifies untold narratives and scenarios,” and that it was “heart-warming” to see the variety of ideas that were presented. Robinson sat on the competition’s judging panel, along with Sister Mitzie Williams, prominent local film-maker Lennie Little-White, film professionals Kyle Chin and Deshauna Spencer, along with Actor Boy Award-winning playwright Maya Wilkinson.
Now in its seventh staging, GATFFEST was created as an outlet for graduates of the UWI Community Film Project to showcase the films that were produced during their training course. The event now serves as a platform for the exposure of film-making talents and is also big on social and community upliftment, cooperation and human development. This year’s festival will see a total of 52 films being screened over 15 days of activities, with film nights dedicated to Jamaican, Japanese, South African, Colombian and Mexican films. The top film-maker will vie for The Archie, the new trophy named after the former principal of UWI, Mona, Professor Archibald McDonald who gave the start-up funds and has been a supporter of the event over the years
The début of two documentaries — Beneath the Surface and Island Strong — was screened on the première night, June 21 and film nights will continue through to June 30, with over 50 films from various genres being screened.
by Christine Vassell