One Caribbean on screen

Film com­mis­sioner pushes for re­gional co-op­er­a­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

RE­NEE ROBIN­SON, film com­mis­sioner at JAMPRO, be­lieves re­gional unity may be the an­swer to Ja­maica’s film in­dus­try woes. In a re­cent in­ter­view with The Gleaner, the ex­pe­ri­enced Robin­son said a com­ing to­gether of all the Caribbean coun­tries could open doors and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for the re­gion to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally. Robin­son noted that each Caribbean is­land may be too small to make a big im­pact on the film in­dus­try in­ter­na­tion­ally, but with each coun­try hav­ing its own com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage, pool­ing re­sources may de­velop the re­gional prod­uct into one so strong that the in­ter­na­tional in­dus­try will be forced to pay at­ten­tion. “I am a big sup­porter of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. I think that one of the things that we for­get is that each ter­ri­tory within our re­gion re­ally does have par­tic­u­lar strengths and dif­fer­ent com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages,” she said. “Guade­lope and Mar­tinique have di­rect ac­cess to Euro­pean Union grants. The rest of the Caribbean doesn’t have that. They are French-speak­ing coun­tries, but at the same time, both coun­tries’ ter­ri­to­rial iden­ti­ties are Caribbean and they have a very strong will­ing­ness to work with the other coun­tries in the Caribbean so that we all can have ac­cess to th­ese grants.”

Robin­son also ex­plained that “a lot of the op­por­tu­ni­ties, whether it’s grants, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance or other types of re­sources, are only avail­able when we co-op­er­ate re­gion­ally”.

While root­ing for re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, Robin­son made it clear that she was by no means in­sin­u­at­ing that the only way Ja­maica can make its mark on film in­ter­na­tion­ally is by join­ing with other coun­tries. “I am not say­ing that we can only get there if we co-op­er­ate; I’m say­ing we could be bet­ter at com­pet­ing at the in­ter­na­tional level if we co-op­er­ate,” she said. “I’m not say­ing that Ja­maica’s not tap­ping into the re­sources of other Caribbean coun­tries is the rea­son why our film in­dus­try has not been able to reach its full po­ten­tial. I’m say­ing I believe we can be bet­ter, stronger, and more ef­fi­cient if we co-op­er­ate re­gion­ally. There are def­i­nitely chal­lenges with that as we have had our own ob­sta­cles and hur­dles as a coun­try that we have had to over­come, and so have the other ter­ri­to­ries. But we have a chance of de­vel­op­ing a very strong prod­uct if we work to­gether. There are op­por­tu­ni­ties to work re­gion­ally, which would be able to strengthen what we are do­ing.”

POS­I­TIVE IM­PACT

Hav­ing re­cently met with film com­mis­sion­ers from other Caribbean coun­tries, Robin­son said her sen­ti­ments are shared by many oth­ers. “They ab­so­lutely believe it,” she said. “This was one of the pos­i­tive im­pact of our at­tend­ing the Trinidad Film Fes­ti­val be­cause what we saw there was rep­re­sen­ta­tion from all the other coun­tries in the re­gion. Go­ing to th­ese types of events with the other film com­mis­sion­ers from the other coun­tries, you un­der­stand some of what there chal­lenges are and so­lu­tions that they’ve put in place that we could learn from. They are all for the idea, so now it’s just about get­ting things into place to make it hap­pen.”

Robin­son be­lieves that the best way to pro­mote the re­gion is through its cul­ture and its sto­ries and en­cour­aged govern­ment and pri­vate-sec­tor com­pa­nies to throw more sup­port be­hind the creative in­dus­tries and lo­cal tal­ent.

Film Com­mis­sioner Re­nee Robin­son.

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