NYC-Based Jamaican director Danae Grandison explores #MeToo conversation with short film “Unspoken”

The short film, “Unspoken” directed by Jamaican-born, New York-based director Danae Grandison, is an official selection in the 27th annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF), which is currently taking place February 7-18 in Los Angeles. Festival screenings of the film are underway, with the debut on February 11th and additional screenings scheduled for February 12th and 18th.  

The 12-minute short explores the unsaid truths of power, class, and money within a society at large, and brings the conversation of #MeToo to Kingston, Jamaica, where the film was shot. Based on the novel, The Bed Head, by Jennifer Grahame, the main characters in “Unspoken” are bound and burdened by duty. One is a married woman, and part of Jamaica’s affluent society, while the other woman is the hired live-in help, expected to oblige her employers’ personal requests. The undertones in the story are about two women connected by living untold truths and heartbreak.  

 

The film’s ensemble cast consists of Jamaican born actors, including Kimberly Patterson, most known for her debut breakout lead role in “King of the Dancehall,” starring Nick Cannon. Patterson also portrays Ruby in BET’s “The Family Business.” Rounding out the cast is model-turned-actress Katrina Spencer, making her film debut, and Hector Lincoln (of “Law & Order: SVU”, “Orange is the New Black”, and Jamaican TV’s popular series, “Royal Palm Estate”) along with accomplished film and stage actor Jerry Benzwick (“Almost Heaven” and “The First Black Britons”), who also serves as the chairman of Jamaica Rugby Football.

“The film delves into Jamaica’s classicism, and the particular way it manifests through gender. It’s a more introspective look at the ways in which these two women are victims of circumstance,” said Grandison. “I set out to explore and juxtapose the relationship between these two women, as it’s severed by betrayal. This juncture of the relationship between the two women mirrors colonial ideology, where the higher-class woman is in conflict with the lower-class woman as it occupies this space of control. I want the audience to see and experience both of these women, their position, their voice, their power, or lack thereof,” she explained.

Also, in the era of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, “Unspoken” offers a snapshot of sexual harassment and inequality in a workplace that’s not a movie set, casting couch or office setting. Instead, it shows systemic abuse of power in the most relatable and vulnerable situation.

Last year, “Unspoken” made its world premiere at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York, and Grandison is working on the feature-length script for “Unspoken”. Grandison is a graphic designer–turned-award-winning filmmaker who is a passionate storyteller, using moving images to express her point of view. She has spent her life between Kingston and New York City.

Grandison enjoyed a long career in graphic design, working with companies and media outlets, such as McCann, VP Records, Sports Illustrated, Black Enterprise as well as brands like AT&T, Microsoft and HALLS, to name a few. In 2011, she discovered an intro to filmmaking course at the School of the Visual Arts (SVA) where she shot and directed her first silent film, “Unconditional Love”. It nabbed the SVA Audience Award, and at that point, she realized that she had found a new medium for her voice.

In 2016, Grandison graduated from SVA with a master’s degree in directing. For her thesis short film, she wrote and directed “[Re]Defined,” which premiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York and PAFF in L.A.

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