Monday, 21 July 2014

FIRST LOOK: Iconic artist Barrington Watson's story gets the film treatment

MASTER CLASS: "I don't know if there's any artist in Jamaica, living or dead, whose work values more than Barrington Watson's."

For Lennie Little-White, Jamaica has produced some estimable pioneers whose sterling contributions to the creative arts have duly earned the cinematic treatment. The veteran filmmaker has done film profiles of his late mentor Perry Henzell (who gave the world The Harder They Come) and the dance fraternity's Rex Nettleford, whose helpful suggestion over two decades ago was the seed that gave birth to Little-White's Mediamix empire that has since spawned Palm Productions, the creative house that gave rise to the long-running Royal Palm Estate. 

Now Little-White has turned his incantatory lens on yet another fascinating subject: legendary visual artist Barrington Watson, whose inspiring story is being profiled for the simply titled Barrington, a retrospective documentary that will shed light on the artist's early life, his struggles and triumphs in very much the same way that last year's rousing Nettleford docu Long Live The King illuminated a Prof. Rex many of us never got the chance to encounter. 

As Little-White puts it, Barrington Watson's story is one for the ages. "There is no artist in Jamaica that has done more than [he has]. The whole wave of young artists that you have now, Barry is their father. All the Cecil Coopers, the Christopher Gonzalezes. All of those guys who went through The School of Art when he was the first principal." 

Featuring a series of interviews (in an array of settings) with the artist himself and those who've come under his sway over the decades, the documentary is poised to deliver a rare look at a Jamaican man for all seasons and a creative life lived to the fullest. It's a work in progress, Little-White assures TALLAWAH, with the editing being meticulously done. The documentary, which will be followed by a sort of biopic on Miss Lou, is slated for a December 2014 premiere. 

"Barrington spawned a lot of people's careers in terms of training and mentoring, and I don't know if there's any artist in Jamaica, living or dead, whose work values more than Barrington Watson's," the filmmaker insists. "You'll have a big argument about who is more important in reggae history: Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh or Bob Marley. But there was only one Nettleford, one Miss Lou, and one Barrington Watson."

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