Monday, September 24, 2007

Bay Street Film Festival Photos

Here they are, the filmmakers at the Bay Street Film Festival held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada! A fun bunch of talented folks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jamesie doc on the go!

The Jamesie doc has traveled a bit this past summer. In August, it was screened at the Globians Film Festival in Potsdam, Germany. The response was very positive, in fact the local public radio station announcer voted "Jamesie" his favorite film in the festival. I was unable to attend this festival.

Last weekend I did travel to Thunder Bay, Ontario in Canada for the Bay Street Film Festival....way up there in the North country. The photo is of me and Australian filmmaker, Liam Ward, in front of Kekabecka Falls outside Thunder Bay.

It was very interesting to see this film about a Caribbean tradition bearer up in Canada. During the screening itself, I stood in the back of the auditorium thinking this audience, made up of many Finland descendants, would have no way of relating to this film. I was pleasantly surprised by the very positive response. Many in the audience applauded my work, saying it was so very important to document the elders in this culture before they pass on. They enjoyed the music, Jamesie and the film itself.

Through the eyes of the audience, I came to see that this story has universal value. Just before my film was screened, there was a lovely film about some elderly folks in Northern Michigan. The folks both in the film and many in the audience are first and second generation Finns, and speak Finnish, sing Finnish songs, eat the traditional foods etc. Their story was not unlike Jamesie's, just set in a colder climate with different points of reference. The point being, I could appreciate their culture, they could appreciate the culture I presented on the Caribbean.

On other notes, Cruzan Rum is now using Jamesie's music on their website: The music is from the CD I produced entitled: JAMESIE AND THE ALL STARS, LIVE AT THE CHICAGO WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL. This CD is available on our Jamesie website. Jamesie was very pleased with this turn of events!

More film festivals to come in the Caribbean this winter, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Interview on You Tube

While I was at the Santa Cruz Film Festival in April, I was interviewed on camera. A selection of the interview is on You Tube. The Jamesie trailer is on the same You Tube.

Click on the link below to see the interview:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More festivals!

Jamesie, King of Scratch is traveling this summer to Germany! The film will be part of the Globians World and Culture Documentary Film Festival held in Potsdam, Germany. The festival takes place August 11 - 19th. They have a wonderful line up of films and I am proud to have the Jamesie film a part of this festival. Check out their photos on flickr:
Sorry I won't be able to make it to Germany for this festival. I will try and make the film festival in Turks and Caico's October 16 -21st. Jamesie, King of Scratch is in this festival and it is in the Caribbean, one of my favorite places in the world!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Another enthusiastic viewer....

"The King of Scratch" is a fascinating, poignant, sensitive and timely
look at an artist who, in his own inimitable style, knows how to project a
"class act" with symbols and exquisite timing! I see the Leland "auteur"
style coming through more and more -- filmic aspects you were developing in
the earlier works are much more defined here: your focus on the minute and
commonplace (like chickens alive and roasted) to draw attention to a "big
star" in his own land and beyond.

I LOVE the fact that you avoided what I consider the cardinal sin of
documentaries: the voiceover of the filmmaker. You aptly created many moods
and paid homage to the particulars of culture without having to say a word
about them. You let the musicians and others do the speaking, and thus
were able to capture both culture change and culture continuity.

The music took center-stage throughout, and although the DVD is allegedly
about Jamesie, I could really see that it's about everybody. A project
like this cannot be successful without a remarkable team effort, and some of
the shots you were able to capture made me wonder repeatedly how you were
able to gain that level of trust. The bedroom shots in particular are

Thanks for sharing this remarkable man and his music, Andrea!

Eileen Moore Quinn

Bill Arnold says.....

Last night I saw your Jamsie film and I was knocked out. I was stunned that it was so good. The editing was wonderful. Riding with the music through the scenes kept everything close. Looking with respect was a pleasure - like panning over all the white faces and pausing on the water bottles. Or letting the woman who walks away from the camera clasp her hands behind her. Or starting the historic footage with that blue abstraction. And always both guiding us through all these complicated stories while having the confidence in our ability to piece it all together. The framing was great. Always going for the essence and if you have to crop off some appendages, so be it. I'm going to New York next week. I hope I see something equal to the quality of your work.

Jamesie doc travels to Denmark

In April, the film and I went to Aarhus, Denmark to be screened in the AFIA Film and Video Festival. Aarhus is a lovely city, and Denmark a fairy-tale land....clean, beautiful, and friendly. The organizer of the festival is Russian, living in Denmark and an expert in animation. The animation in the festival was excellent and not typical of what I have seen in the past.
The festival itself was not promoted very well, and most of the festival attendee's were other filmmakers from all over the world. My screening of Jamesie, King of Scratch, was held in a magnificent theater in the newly built music hall with excellent projection quality. The response was positive, giving a good idea of what life is like in the Virgin Islands.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jamesie on the Film Fest Circuit

The film festival circuit is a trip, literally and figuratively. I would like to relate some my thoughts on the subject.

I am beginning to see that the film festivals are all about connecting and pleasing the community in which they are presented, and about selling tickets. We filmmakers are just a part of the whole, albeit an important part in that we provide the essence of the event. As such, we are not the ones that the organizers are focused on, rather the audience. Some festivals seem to be better prepared to incorporate the filmmakers needs, others less so. Also, it seems getting a good time spot on the program has a lot of politics involved....something I never knew and am not too good at negotiating. The "prime time" spots are given to the sexy big ticket sellers....

The Miami women’s International film festival was a bit unorganized with regards to the filmmakers. There was no central location for the filmmakers to meet other than at the theater. The films were all over the vast, hard to get around city and thus those of us without cars, which was all of us filmmakers, could not travel to other locations for the major speaking events given by film stars( Rudy Dee) or to attend our own film screenings at the alternate locations. The larger events were very well publicized and well attended, our film screenings at the Coconut Grove theater had very little attendance, in fact my film was seen only by a handful of other filmmakers and festival volunteers and had no local audience to speak of. In addition, I was not given the opportunity to speak to the audience right after my film as they wanted to keep a schedule that had another electronic music film on immediately after mine. By the time the next film was shown, anyone interested in indigenous grass roots music from the islands was long gone.
All was not lost though, I did rent a car and drive to Rascal House for a corned beef sandwich, a bowl of borscht and a knish. That was worth the trip.

The next festival was the Santa Cruz Film Festival in sunny (but mostly rainy when I was there) California. At this festival, the organizer, Jane Sullivan, really went out of her way to greet me, the filmmaker, and make me feel welcomed and appreciative of my attending the festival. .She was enthusiastic and commented on how much she liked my film. In fact she had the focus of the festival on music from different parts of the world in addition to including a number of films made in and around the Santa Cruz / northern California area. There was a film about music in Morocco…a spiritual music festival in Fez. Another about African drumming, Cuban hip-hop from a Cuban director etc.

Unfortunately for the filmmakers, there was not a good opportunity to meet and talk with other filmmakers. The late night parties after the screenings were more for local folks with more very loud music. The festival is spread out over 2 weeks, so the filmmakers come and go after their screenings. There was no dinner for us to schmooze over. So, I took the opportunity to meet and greet and hang with my kids in San Francisco so I was not around the festival all that much.

My film was the very first screened at the festival, at 5pm on a Thursday night. Not a great time, but hey, who is complaining. I had about two dozen + audience members who watched the film and stayed to give me comments afterwards. Those who made comments complimented me on the subject, the music and taking the time to make a film which will preserve the culture in the long run. I appreciated the comments, and took in the enthusiasm the festival volunteers and personnel expressed towards having me attend and for the film itself.
Nevertheless, I could not help feeling out of place.

I think I experienced some kind of culture shock. California is full of people and cars, and great variety of music I love on the radio, and an abundance of cheap, healthy organic foods. Also, so many cars and so much traffic and the housing is terribly expensive, sort of like St. John prices. The streets of Santa Cruz have hippie folks singing in the streets for change, and lots of young folks in very creative clothing…fashionable rags held together with strings and buttons and pins. Hobo Chic. It is very hard to tell if they are penniless or filthy rich, but I suspect there may are the latter.

So, my ethnographic, ethnomusicology film about scratch band music comes plopping into this California scene and somehow I felt out of place, like I am living in another world, making movies on subjects only of interest to academics and those with a fond feeling of nostalgia for what was in a far away place. I probably had this feeling because right after my film, the 500 seat theater was filled to capacity with a rip roaring crowd from Santa Cruz to watch the premiere of a horror film that was locally produced and filmed. Most of the audience was in the film and they came dressed as their characters. Wow, that was true culture shock. I opted out and went to stay with some friends who lived on St. John and recently moved to Santa Cruz. Through conversation and with a glass of wine, I came to put the evening in perspective.

I had my second screening on a Sunday morning at 11:30 am. Not too many people in the audience, but certainly some, maybe two dozen + or so. At one point I wanted to go out and pull people off the street, but the streets were empty at this time of the morning. Those who saw the Jamesie film did like it. They were moving to the music and laughing in all the right places. The comments included: I do very good work, very in depth and anthropological, important and a good body of work. I sold all the CD’s of Jamesie’s music that I brought.

I felt much better after this screening than I did after the first one. Perhaps because I saw some other films. One that I saw was a very one-sided film about the small independent bookstores that are closing, making Borders and Barnes and Noble seem like the big bad wolf. Ethan (my son) pointed out that these big stores are convenient, and the bookstores need to adjust to that, maybe change their focus for something. He pointed out that it is not quite the one sided picture that is being painted, and that his point of view was not represented. I agreed. Saw another music film that captured the music of Morocco, but did not put it into context….still a beautiful film to watch. I bought it for a screening on St. John.

I missed a lot of the film screenings cuz I was on the radio / internet. KZSC, check it out, a world music program that will now be playing Jamesie’s music. Another audience member came up to me and took a CD and will play it on his radio program, and will begin to promote the film and music to world music festivals as he can. We exchanged contact info and will keep in touch. At the Park City Music Film Festival, which the Jamesie film was in and received a GOLD MEDAL, an audience member contacted me and invited the film to be in a music film festival in Skopje, Macedonia.

I just find it interesting that most people who see the film know nothing about the music or the Virgin Islands and yet they like what they see. I am now feeling much better about my “body of work” and my ability to present and contextualize the music and culture of the Virgin Islands, and Jamesie in an engaging way. Of course I give a huge amount of credit to my editor, Jude Leak, and to the musicians who make the music come alive.

OK, I am ready for Denmark. And after that, the North by Northeast music and film festival in Toronto in June. Stay tuned.