J’can, US ex­pe­ri­ences in­form ‘Im­mi­grant Broth­ers’

Mar­lon Sa­muda writes, pro­duces, stars award-win­ning short film

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mel Cooke Gleaner Writer en­ter­tain­ment@glean­erjm.com

THERE WAS a time when Mar­lon Sa­muda helped pro­vide meals for home­less peo­ple in Cross Roads, St An­drew, and down­town Kingston. Then a Hil­lel Academy stu­dent, Sa­muda told The Gleaner he formed a non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion called Ja­maica Com­mu­nity Up­lift­ment Pro­gramme (JCUP) which, un­for­tu­nately, “lasted only a year or two”.

Then, after grad­u­at­ing with hon­ours from the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies (UWI), Mona’s En­ter­tain­ment and Cul­tural En­ter­prise Man­age­ment pro­gramme, then the New York Film Academy, Sa­muda had an­other ex­pe­ri­ence with the home­less, which led di­rectly to his short film, Im­mi­grant Broth­ers.

After win­ning Best Drama Short Film at the Euro­pean Cin­e­matog­ra­phy Awards and mak­ing the fi­nals of the Sanc­tu­ary Cove In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, the story of a home­less Ja­maican, Mex­i­can and Syr­ian trio will have its world pre­miere on Sun­day at the At­lantic City Cine­fest, New Jer­sey, US.


While Sa­muda was re­turn­ing from the beach in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia, with friends, they de­cided to give left­over sand­wiches to some of the area’s nu­mer­ous home­less per­sons. The in­ter­ac­tion was food for thought.

“I al­ways knew I wanted to write a script for a short film. I knew it would be a drama,” said the 25-year-old Sa­muda, who lives in London. “But lo and be­hold, I am com­ing from the beach, there is this ex­pe­ri­ence and that spark was cre­ated.”

Im­mi­grant Broth­ers, di­rected by Brazil­ian Ni­cholas Cunha, fol­lows the home­less im­mi­grant trio as they strug­gle to cope with yet an ad­di­tional set­back.

Sa­muda had his heart set on act­ing from he was in high school, after be­ing in plays dur­ing his time at prep school. He was in­volved in pro­duc­tions by David Tul­loch and Fa­ther Ho Lung and Friends. At 17 years old, he in­tended to leave Ja­maica, but his par­ents had dif­fer­ent ideas, so he ended up at UWI.

It was an ex­pe­ri­ence Sa­muda does not re­gret, say­ing the En­ter­tain­ment and Cul­tural En­ter­prise Man­age­ment “is cul­tur­ally based and made me in­ter­ested to learn about other peo­ple’s cul­ture. When I meet per­sons now, I of­ten ask where are you from be­fore I ask their name. It helps in deal­ing with peo­ple of other cul­tures,” Sa­muda said of the UWI pro­gramme.

He chose the na­tion­al­i­ties of the three im­mi­grant broth­ers – re­lated by fate and cir­cum­stance, not blood – be­cause of their rel­e­vance to the place and theme – there are many il­le­gal Mex­i­can im­mi­grants in Cal­i­for­nia, crises in the Mid­dle East have cre­ated many refugees (in­clud­ing Syr­i­ans) and many Ja­maicans ‘run off’ in the US.

He found pro­duc­ing hard, un­like se­lect­ing most of the cast and crew, as they were largely peo­ple he al­ready knew, al­though he still had the ac­tors read their lines). Shoot­ing took place over three days last Novem­ber and the film was ready to be seen by March this year.

How­ever, Sun­day’s screen­ing will be the first time Im­mi­grant Broth­ers will be seen by a wider public than per­sons connected to film fes­ti­val pro­ce­dures, and Sa­muda tells The Gleaner, “I am nervous.”

He in­tends to show the short film in Ja­maica next year, but has not yet set­tled on a date.


The home­less il­le­gal im­mi­grant trio of ‘Im­mi­grant Broth­ers’.

Mar­lon Sa­muda

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