Monday, 30 April 2012

TALKING FASHION: Lubica excited about short film and new collection

MODERN APPEAL: The designer gives us the 4-1-1 on her cool new gigs.

TALLAWAH has been inspired to follow Lubica Slovak’s fascinating life and career ever since she was romantically linked to one of our favourite people, Dr. Usain Bolt. It helps, too, that she is not only a talented couturier but also a total sweetheart rocking a great look.

Though she remains faithfully mum on the blossoming Bolt/Slovak romance, Lubica is not one to hesitate when it comes to dishing on the passion projects that are trending in her universe. So far this year, the driven 28-year-old fashion star has at least two coming attractions to be thrilled about: a foray into the world of filmmaking and the debut of a fresh collection from her eponymous line.

Asked about the upcoming short film, which she’s producing, Lubica tells me she can’t wait to share it with the world. “We shot it already; it’s amazing,” she says over the phone. “It was done recently and will be premiered at the end of May. But I’ll let you know for sure when we’ll have the viewing.”

The five-minute clip, which was filmed at Strawberry Hill by none other than Nile and Storm Saulter, is titled Beyond and engages with, among other things, Miss Slovak’s abiding love for minimalist chic. “I can’t tell you what it’s all about because that would ruin the surprise,” she admits with a laugh. “I haven’t seen the finished product yet, but I’ve seen some shots, and they look amazing. I saw Storm yesterday, and he was saying that it is exactly what we wanted, so I’ll probably see the [final thing] this week.”

And in case you’re wondering if Lubica is also starring in the picture, turns out that she’s gracefully left the on-screen performances up to three lovely models, two females and one male. In the meantime, the super-busy lady is just as excited about her brand-new collection which, she reveals, will be unveiled next month at the same time as the final cut of Beyond.

>> STORY: Lubica on Bolt, Tami Chynn and Caribbean culture





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GIRL OF THE MOMENT: Crowd-pleaser Risanne Martin has our full attention

FACE VALUE: Martin is ready for her close-up.

Fresh from her bravura turn in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined at the School of Drama, lavishly talented Trini-Jamaican actress Risanne Martin opens up to TALLAWAH about taking on the role of a lifetime, the sexual abuse women face across the globe, and what the future holds for her.

In Ruined, you portray the no-nonsense heroine Mama Nadi. Over the course of preparing to take on this complex role, what did you discover that you had in common with the character – and how did that help to shape the performance you gave?
Mama Nadi's resilience and her somewhat rough exterior I discovered are the two main things I had in common with the character. These helped to shape my performance in a major way, as I consistently, up until final show, worked on improving her physical appearance [and things like] her habits, gestures and tone.

Ruined deals with unsettling issues like sexual abuse and abuse of power. What surprised you most about the nature of the experiences Congolese women endured at the height of the civil war – and even beyond?
It took a few weeks for me to accept, understand and deal with the reality of the sexual abuse real women endure whether in the Congo or within the Caribbean. It made me reflect on my own experiences where I felt sexually violated and this created a pain and sadness in me, I used this feeling to push the character's objectives. I felt that if I successfully portrayed this character I’d have an opportunity to spread awareness and put focus on a topic that is not being discussed enough within schools and households: sexual violence.

In your own words, why do you act? Who are the actors you most admire?
For the past couple of years I have been directing short plays and teaching drama to high school students both in Jamaica and in Trinidad. So when I was invited to audition for this role, I was more than hesitant. My confidence wavered even after the audition, as Mama Nadi's strength, charisma and boldness highlighted my own insecurities. Director Eugene Williams' approach to the development of my character was very straightforward as he pushed most of my childish and girly characteristics out of me and helped me to find a resilient power. I am involved in theatre because it teaches humility, empathy and unearths this divine feeling of accomplishment throughout a never ending process. Actors that I admire? Well other than myself (Laughs), Meryl Streep definitely. She is consistent and dynamic. Local actors Sakina, Dahlia Harris, Michael Nicholson, Shayne Powell, and Oliver Samuels. The list is never ending.


What was it like growing up in Trinidad – and what do you find fascinating about Jamaica?
Growing up in my household, hard work was the order of the day. My mother, a teacher, and my father, a marine surveyor, both supported my decision to study Drama, and to take my work to Jamaica. I am addicted to Jamaican culture; it is so rich and true. The theatre fraternity here judge you based on the work that you do, and it matters not where you are coming from. Rich, poor, white, black, foreigner or local, your work speaks for you, and I find that very encouraging.

You recently celebrated your 26th birthday. Are you proud of the woman you've become?
(Laughs) I am amazed everyday at who I am, the ideas I develop and the plans that I make for my future. This role could not have come at a better time; I am in the final semester of my [Masters] in Cultural Studies programme at UWI, and the process of this production has helped me to manage time much better.

So what's your personal creed?
My personal creed. Hmmmmm. To live and enjoy life day by day. Taking everything one step at a time surely simplifies things.

>> STAGE REVIEW: Ruined is an emotional tour-de-force




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AS I AM: Pariah is a heartfelt account of sexuality and self-discovery

LIFE QUEST: Nigerian-born Oduye in a scene from the acclaimed film.

If nothing else, Pariah deserves kudos for its sincere depiction of the frustration and pain often attendant to the experience of coming into one’s own as a homosexual. In chronicling the story of 17-year-old lesbian Alike Freeman, the urban drama (a hit at Sundance) takes emotional turns even as it makes wise observations about sexuality, Black family dynamics, and what it means to be young, gifted and gay.

As we are introduced to the soulful Brooklyn tomboy (Adepero Oduye in a star-making turn), she is on a journey of self-discovery (she wants to become a writer) and sexual awakening (she has an attraction for sassy chicks) while struggling with the fear of being rejected should she come out to her folks (stern Christian mother and an indifferent detective father). A bond with a more experienced friend helps to somewhat lighten the burden, but it is ultimately up to Alike to rise above her naiveté on the road to becoming a woman in full.

A poignant and important coming-of-age/coming-out tale, sensitively written and directed by newcomer Dee Rees, Pariah is bound to draw comparisons to such predecessors as Boys Don’t Cry, but where that Oscar-winning Hilary Swank vehicle was roguish and occasionally given to graphic violence, Pariah is laden with sympathy, optimism, and ultimately wised-up sensibilities centred on finding the freedom to be oneself.




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CAT POWER: ‘Vagina Monologues’ are hugely enjoyable

PLAY IT AGAIN: Kerr in "My Vagina Was My Village," Kingston, 2011.

The Vagina Monologues (Sankofa Productions)
Director: Fabian Thomas
Cast: Noelle Kerr, Hilary Nicholson, Althea Hewitt, and Leonie Forbes
Venue: Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI Mona.

Vaginas are incredibly needy and talkative. And they’re prone to launching into a super-sized hissy fit when they don’t get what they want when they want it and how they want it. Bitches. You don’t want to end up on a vagina’s bad side (see “The Angry Vagina”).

As if they feel they deserve any less, a troupe of these vagina warriors, moody and frequently dramatic, took over the Philip Sherlock Centre last Friday night. Why? Because “we were worried.” Coincidentally though, the occasion marked this year’s observance of V-Day Kingston and another Fabian Thomas-helmed revival of Eve Ensler’s deliriously entertaining The Vagina Monologues.

Brought to life by a cast of varied performance experience, the show’s sequence of solos and group pieces unfolded before a packed house that never skimped on the (sometimes) vociferous applause, particularly the clear first-timers. Ensler virgins.

While this revival yielded mixed overall results, Ensler’s critically acclaimed work hasn’t lost an iota of its power to amuse, enlighten and provoke thought in almost equal measure.

As could be expected from a work that aims to illuminate the wide-ranging and complex relationships/experiences of women and their genitalia, there were moments that failed to spark (“Because He Liked To Look At It”) and others that just hit the spot. On the upside, Noelle Kerr did compelling work with the heartrending “My Vagina Was My Village” and (along with Neisha-Yen Jones) in the droll “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy.”

And while it transported viewers across time lines – from Susie Braham’s clever “A Six-Year-Old Girl Was Asked” to Hilary Nicholson’s spot-on stint as a woman in advanced age (“The Flood”) – there were time-honored pearls of wisdom along the way. Like this gem from Shawna-Kae Burns’ “The Angry Vagina”: “Don’t let him tell you it smells like rose petals, when it is supposed to smell like p---y.” Heard that. Tyrone’s Verdict: B




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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts

MISS JONES REGRETS: The artist sings of lost love on new album.

How do you like your Norah Jones? Calming and mellow or with a jolt of sheer femme fatale? Regardless, the queen of folk-pop is exploring darker territory with her enthralling latest effort, Little Broken Hearts. (The astonishing cover art is an homage to the intense 1965 Russ Meyer film Mudhoney.) Though the album announces an edgier mood for the multiple Grammy winner, Hearts, her fifth studio disc, carries traits of a typical Jones record: confessional-style lyricism, hauntingly rich melodies – not to mention a fine showcase of that bewitching voice.

According to Jones, Hearts (Blue Note Records) was inspired by a harsh breakup with her writer-boyfriend. Little surprise then that her listeners are in for an emotionally-charged meditation on disappointment, heartache, and a hint of film noir-esque vengeance. To wit, the sly, acoustic guitar-accompanied “She’s 22” is aimed at an ex-lover and his new (younger) woman. Similarly, the melancholia-spiked “After the Fall” is equal parts regret and reminiscence.

Free of misfires, the 12-track album draws on the chanteuse’s now-signature mix of soothing vocals and spare instrumentation. In fact, essential cuts like the atmospheric opener “Good Morning” and the soft-rock-infused title track would not be out of place on such previous efforts as 2004’s Feels Like Home and 2007’s Not Too Late.

Given her remarkable oeuvre (which, of course, includes the instant-classic 2002 debut Come Away With Me), one could be tempted to put forward the argument that Norah Jones’ best work is behind her. But while this new record won’t dramatically impact the arc of her career, Little Broken Hearts (produced by Gnarls Barkley’s Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton) represents a fascinating new step in her artistic evolution. Or, Miss Jones is just shaking up her good-girl image with a brief romp on the wild side that has lent her music a starker palette.

In any case, Norah Jones remains a classic talent with a timeless sound that needn’t ever worry about finding an appreciative audience. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+




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PERSONAL VISION: Two Cuban nationals bring inspired craft to a new exhibit

UP AND AWAY: Delmonte's "Parking Lot."

Creative souls Eugenio D’Melon and Israel Delmonte, both Havana natives, possess a genuine knack for cleverly juxtaposing the notions of precision, humanity and beauty with a sense of the subversive in their works. This is abundantly evident in their new joint exhibition “D & D Distillers,” currently on view, through May 12, at the Mutual Gallery.

Pulling you in with a richly polychromatic palette and a fascinating meditation on everything from spirituality and the great outdoors to themes of emptiness and solitude, the pieces are nothing if not attention-grabbing and open to sweeping interpretations. Such Delmonte oils as “Parking Lot” and “Monument” (with their bold strokes and lush hues) are subtle in their references to latter-day Caribbean attitudes toward religion, while D'Melon vividly demonstrates a taste for blending incongruous elements which ultimately elevates his relatively small xerographs into mysteries of enigmatic scope.

Overall though, the real feat that these gifted Hispanic artists pull of with laudable skill is rooted in how they fashion wonderful art out of life’s ordinariness.

“D & D Distillers” is on view at the Mutual Gallery, Oxford Road, through May 12.

ADRIFT: D'Melon's "Holy Illusion."




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Sunday, 29 April 2012

ON THE SCENE: Regina Beavers + Fahrenheit + Storm Saulter + Romain Virgo + Nile Saulter + Supa Hype + Michael Cuffe

O, BROTHER: April 25, Kingston. When the Cuffe boys (Brandan, left, and Michael) are in the house, be prepared for double trouble. The energetic duo had their game faces on last Wednesday night inside Fiction for Brand New Machine's Pre-Tend Killerz mini-bash.

LIFE OF THE PARTY: April 25, Kingston. Miss Jamaica World pageant director Regina Beavers was also in the mood for a fun night at Fiction last Wednesday, sharing a nice close-up with Guardsman Group's Byron Purkiss.

MAKING A SCENE: April 25, Kingston. Taking a break from their latest screen projects, filmmaking brothers Nile (left) and Storm Saulter brought their signature low-key vibe to last Wednesday's party inside the Fiction night-club.

RECORD HOLDERS: April 25, New York. With the arrival of his second album, The System, mere days away, reggae-soul crooner Romain Virgo is currently in the Big Apple for a series of promo events, including a recent drop-in on Sirius XM's Pat McKay. This Monday, Virgo will give a performance at the grand opening of the Tree of Life Reggae Series at S.O.B's in Manhattan.

IN THE MIX: April 25, Kingston. Ace selector Supa Hype (left), who kept the Fiction crowd on their feet with popular hits, shared the d-jay duties with Linda Blease (straight off the plane from Belize). Here, super-smooth singer-songwriter Fahrenheit joins them for a photo-op.

SHOT CALLERS: April 25, Kingston. Cheers! It wasn't the freakin' weekend, so Fiction habitués Brandan, Michael and Shelly-Ann Chung raised their glasses to the good life.




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TYRONE RECOMMENDS: A Bette Davis classic + Kate Winslet’s new book

The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism
Author: Kate Winslet (with Margret Ericsdottir)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Doing her part to raise public awareness about autism, Kate Winslet has published The Golden Hat, a collection of inspirational messages and photographs featuring celebrity friends and supporters of the Oscar-winning actress all snapped wearing the same fedora. From images of Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway to Kobe Bryant and Michael Kors, the recently-arrived book (proceeds from which will benefit Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation) is a wonderfully star-filled volume of self-portraits in support of a good cause. For more, go to goldenhatfoundation.org.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Director: Robert Aldrich

To quote a guest star on Queer As Folk, this excellent picture pits “two of the biggest bitch goddesses” in movie history – Bette Davis and Joan Crawford – against each other. And you really can’t disagree with him. The powerhouse screen legends are in extraordinary form playing sisters (aging former stars sharing an old mansion) who give devilish new meaning to sibling rivalry. Blending dark humour with moments of crackling intensity, it’s equal parts twisty psychological thriller and compelling drama. Highly recommended.




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Friday, 27 April 2012

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Singer-songwriter Da’Ville is back in stride

SEEING DOUBLE: "I feel re-energized and refocused."

Da’Ville was gone for a minute, but now he’s back with the jumpoff. And as he gets reacquainted with his loyal following, the seasoned crooner is determined to reclaim his place in the pantheon of reggae-pop entertainers who matter – just as if he’d never left.

At the same time, while Da’Ville declines to elaborate on what led to his lengthy absence from the front page, he’s more eager to bring TALLAWAH up to date on his fresh game plan, which admittedly includes releasing visuals for his latest radio-ready tracks like the recently-debuted “Took A Break,” where he takes aim at his detractors, and the upcoming “You Got Di Ting” and “Your Swag,” both of which exalt a woman’s inimitable sex appeal.

As it happens, this interview is taking place on a sunny Monday afternoon on the set of “You Got Di Ting” in cool upper St. Andrew. Off Jack’s Hill Road, to be precise. While we talk, the hired video vixens are somewhere close by getting primped for the shoot. “It’s just a vibe,” Da’Ville says, referring to his intention to film and release successive new videos in the coming weeks. “Now is the time that I feel re-energized, refocused. And I am just getting back into the thing and dealing with it accordingly.”


Sure to rank among the highlights of the singer’s year is the impending release of his newest album, a still-untitled effort due out May 27 via his own Fashozy Records. Alluding to the growth he’s undergone in his personal and professional lives in recent times, Da’Ville emphasizes that the record will let folks to see him in a whole new light. “The album will show the new evolved Da’Ville,” he tells me. “The songs are on different topics, of course, with different genres infused. I normally write from my experiences: love, breakup, and so on. But this time we’re also doing something in the spiritual, inspirational vibe. To inspire people. We also have something special for the woman dem, the mothers. So it varies.”

Asked about the latest status of the album, he responds, “Right now we are on the final stages” noting, too, that he’s enlisted local and foreign producers for the project. “The title we are yet to finalize, but I’m sure that within the next couple of days we should make up our minds.”

Like so many others who’ve been in the biz for well over a decade, Da’Ville admits that it’s difficult to single out a proudest career moment. “I’m proud of everything. The songs we’ve been able to do especially,” the hunky 34-year-old says. “I’m proud of the fact that we get the support of people internationally. And I’m just proud to know that we still deh bout and still going strong everyday.”




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“I’ve never felt more respected”: Is Yendi throwing shade at Asafa?

WE FOUND LOVE: Chino and Yendi on affairs of the heart.

One sure-fire way to know a woman is in love: she giggles nonstop, school-girl style, when talking about the special man in her life. Yendi Phillipps is no exception. The fresh-faced beauty and her loverboy Chino sat down for a revealing and chuckle-filled chatfest with the Observer earlier this week, dishing on their hot romance, how they became an item, and looking ahead to the birth of their first baby.

By her own admission, Yendi has never had a love like this. “I’ve never felt more respected. I’ve never felt more regarded,” she notes. And almost immediately one senses a comparison to her previous (failed) relationship with sprint star Asafa Powell. To wit, Phillipps confessed exclusively to TALLAWAH this past January the reason(s) for the collapse of their affair. “As a woman, I hold certain values and standards for myself,” she said. “I feel like I was raised by a man who is of exemplary character. And as such I hold certain values and standards. And because of that I just felt as though things had to go in a different direction [with me and Asafa]. I felt it was for the best.”

By all appearances, these days Miss Phillipps’ love life is marked by a more harmonious tune. You get the feeling that she’s finally found what she’s long desired out of a relationship. What’s more, a sincere dynamic is what she seems to share with Chino McGregor, whom she affectionately refers to as ‘D’. “I feel very cared for,” says Yendi, who is 17 weeks into her pregnancy. “You know when something happens, and the first thing you want to do is pick up the phone and call that person? This is who I want to call. He doesn’t say much; he’s not a talkative person, which gives me room to say a lot. (Giggles). But when he does speak, he’s very profound. I love his mind space. And, yeah, he’s a nice one. He’s a keeper. (Giggles).”

Miraculously, Chino did manage to get a few words in. The genesis of their romance, he explains, was an effortless enterprise. “It didn’t feel new. It wasn’t a situation where I approached her or vice versa. It was just one of those situations that just happened,” the singjay admits. “Does it look like love? Quite so; you can feel it. It’s nothing that we put an effort into. We’re soulmates.”

STORY: Yendi Phillipps and Chino announce their pregnancy

EXCLUSIVE: Yendi talks women in power and leaving Asafa

MUST READ: Chino dishes on Yendi and his legacy




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NEWS + NOTES: No-Maddz to perform at Calabash 2012 + Asafa heads to Penn Relays

RUNNING MAN: Days after announcing its sponsorship of more than 23 local relay teams, telecomms company LIME has confirmed that brand ambassador Asafa Powell will be making a special appearance at the 2012 Penn Relays, scheduled for this weekend in Philadelphia. “The Jamaican support at the Penn Relays is awesome, so I am definitely looking forward to spending the day with the athletes and thousands of Jamaicans in the Diaspora who will attend,” says Powell, who has been a LIME ambassador since 2005. As for his ongoing preparations for the London Olympics, the sprinter reveals: “Every day I am strictly focused on preparing for the Olympics to make London 2012 my best.”

UP AND LIVE: Apart from the readings, the food, and the amazing ambience, the nightly live music remains one of the most appealing draws of the Calabash Literary Fest. This year, Calabashers will be partying the night away with the bands! For 'Midnight Ravers' on Friday’s opening night, the soljahs of No-Maddz and Raging Fyah will bring the heat “to hot up de place on a cool night.” Stone Love and South Africa’s The Admiral will duke it out for Saturday’s 'Cala-Clash,' while the rest of the weekend promises pulsating sounds and stirring grooves from the likes of Wayne Armond and Ibo Cooper. Mark your calendars: May 25-27. Visit calabashfestival.org.




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TALLAWAH MOMENT: PM Portia Simpson-Miller graces the red carpet at TIME 100 gala

STYLE & SUBSTANCE: Simpson-Miller at the TIME event in NYC.

Taking her rightful place among the world’s most celebrated movers-and-shakers, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, impeccably turned out in a rich black ensemble, put in an appearance on the red carpet at the 2012 TIME 100 reception gala hosted by the Jazz at Lincoln Centre in New York City on Tuesday night.

Calling her the “embodiment of perseverance and strength,” the editors of TIME named Simpson-Miller among this year’s crop of honorees, dubbed the 100 most influential people on the face of the Earth.


At the swanky event, Simpson-Miller hob-nobbed with such luminaries as US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, NBA phenom Jeremy Lin, comedy queenpin Kristen Wiig, and FLOTUS Michelle Obama, among others. Fellow Caribbean honoree Rihanna was the evening’s musical act, performing her chart-topping hit “We Found Love” before moving into a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”




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MUST SEE: Ziggy pays tribute to Bob with “Is This Love?” on The Tonight Show

THE CAST: Ziggy Marley (far right), with host Jay Leno, Adam Levine, Richard Engel and a pair of The Voice contestants.

As worldwide promotion for the acclaimed Marley documentary continues, Ziggy Marley (one of the film’s executive producers) was the musical guest on Wednesday’s episode of NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. With his lively band in tow, Ziggy gave a spirited rendition of his legendary father’s classic song “Is This Love?” to bring the show to a close.

In the meantime, over the past weekend, Marley claimed the top spot at the box office for films released in less than 100 cinemas. Raking in some $260,000, the film beat out such other releases as Footnote and Damsels in Distress.

Check out Ziggy’s terrific performance:






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Thursday, 26 April 2012

OUT & ABOUT: Ziggy Marley + Richie Stephens + Chris Byfield + fabian thomas + Sean Paul + Leonie Forbes

FRIENDS & FAMILY: April 24, St. Andrew. It's all smiles from the multi-talented crew, including director fabian thomas (far left) and stage legend Leonie Forbes (centre foreground), set for this weekend's Vagina Monologues at UWI's Philip Sherlock Centre that will benefit local women's charities.

GETTING HIS DUE: April 21, New York. Looking sharp and dashing, veteran reggae crooner Richie Stephens was the man of the hour at an awards ceremony put on recently by the Comets Athletic Club (New York chapter). Here, President of Comets Club International, Judith Hutchinson, presents Stephens with their special Cultural Ambassador award while Aziz Adetimirin (left) and Christopher Castriota look on.

STAGE PRESENCE: April 13, Northern Ireland. As he continues to make his presence felt in the international arena, Sean Paul flew to Belfast to thrill his European fans at the MTV Titanic Sounds concert in Belfast. The Grammy winner's vibrant performance mainly comprised tracks from his most recent album, Tomahawk Technique.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: April 17, Los Angeles. Last week's star-studded premiere of Marley in L.A. was, of course, a must-do for Ziggy Marley and the lovely wife, Orly, who brought a jolt of brilliant colour to the red carpet. Meanwhile, Ziggy was the musical guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday.

ON THE REEL: April 18, Kingston. The recently-concluded Reggae Film Festival offered a much-needed platform for up-and-coming Jamaican filmmakers like (from left) Reinardo Chung, Diavallon Fearon, Chris Byfield and Craig 'Amaziah the Great' Kirkland. This year's RFF unfolded inside the gardens of the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston.




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