Many would be surprised to know that Jamaica has a thriving film industry with a pool of creative professionals that have long worked year-round. Through their work with local musicians and corporations, many also get opportunities to both travel overseas to work with international heavyweights in the music, film production and corporate advertising scenes, as well as take on opportunities to work on the many international productions that land in Jamaica.
Storm Saulter, for instance, is an award-winning filmmaker from Negril, Jamaica, who has worked and travelled across the globe on a variety of projects.
Saulter’s award-winning debut film, Better Mus’ Come, was hailed by critics as signaling a fresh new movement of independent filmmaking throughout the Caribbean. He has directed Music Videos for Chronixx, Protoje, Arcade Fire, and recently captured visuals for Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s On The Run 2 world tour.
This month Saulter will release his second feature film, Sprinter, which was executive produced by Will Smith and his wife Jada. Last year the film was awarded swept “Best Director”, “Best Narrative Feature” and the “Audience Award” in the 2018 American Black Film Festival. The film went on to win the “New Vision Award” at the Bahamas International Film Festival, “Best Feature Film” at the Nouveaux Regards Film Festival in Guadeloupe, and “Best Narrative Feature” at the 2019 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.
In line with Saulter’s usual thematic thrust of dissecting the complex social and cultural dynamics of the Caribbean, the film is about a Jamaican teen working for a successful track-and-field career, in hopes that it will lead him to his mother who has been living in the US illegally for over a decade.
According to Saulter, “Sprinter is the story of a Barrel Pickney determined to run as fast as he can to reunite his broken family.”
“I lost my mother somewhat unexpectedly, and way younger than I thought I would have. While trying to process that loss, I got to thinking about the thousands of children growing up in Jamaica and across the Caribbean without their mothers (or fathers) not because of death, but because of the lack of economic opportunities locally, and the need for at least one parent to head north in search of work, oftentimes overstaying their visas and never being able to return home without risking the livelihood of their families. In Jamaica, these children are called “Barrel Pickney”, because of the barrels of clothes, food, and other essentials shipped to them from relatives living overseas,” he explains.
In an effort to support the growth of the film industry in the Caribbean, and young creative film professionals such as Saulter, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) announced last week that it is working to establish a national film fund that will cover the cost of filming in Jamaica.
Sprinter is set to be release in US theaters on April 24th.
For more information visit www.sprinterthefilm.com.