Fes­ti­val founder says he was in­spired by Sir John!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Faye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir

Umoja Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany Inc, headed by Ed Umoja Her­man, will be host­ing its 3rd an­nual Pi­ton In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val here from Au­gust 15-21. The fes­ti­val aims to fos­ter unity within di­verse fam­i­lies, giv­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to watch, dis­cuss, learn, and en­joy films to­gether.

Ac­cord­ing to or­gan­is­ers, the fes­ti­val com­prises a 12-month pro­gramme fo­cused on cel­e­brat­ing, ed­u­cat­ing, ex­plor­ing, and un­der­stand­ing the var­i­ous as­pects of skill and trade needed in the film­mak­ing process. “The Pi­ton Film Fes­ti­val seeks to cre­ate eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­di­vid­u­als, es­pe­cially Saint Lu­cians,” said Her­man this week.

The ros­ter of events in­cludes a me­dia-day lunch at Blu Ho­tel, sem­i­nars, film screen­ings, a red car­pet open night film, a po­etry jam and a recog­ni­tion award cer­e­mony.

Ac­cord­ing to Her­man, “Sir John Comp­ton, back in the 90s, put out a call to over­seas na­tion­als to come back home to help build and make our coun­try bet­ter.” Her­man re­turned with his mother to Saint Lu­cia and was rein­tro­duced to lo­cal life by Jerry Ge­orge. He be­gan work­ing here from 1998. As a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher Her­man has pho­tographed the Saint Lu­cia Jazz Fes­ti­val an­nu­ally.

“I had lots of key con­nec­tions as a pho­tog­ra­pher work­ing with lead­ing peo­ple in Amer­ica. I was the Rev. Al Sharp­ton’s per­sonal pho­tog­ra­pher and worked with Jessie Jackson and the lawyer John­nie Cochran,” Her­man re­vealed dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view.

He was also be­hind the launch­ing of Sis­ters in Har­mony, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion in the U.S. He said: “An Amer­i­can sis­ter and I started the Pi­ton Film Fes­ti­val and when she branched off I con­tin­ued the ini­tia­tive, re­brand­ing as the Pi­ton In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (PIFF) in 2015. Af­ter host­ing three events as PIFF, we looked at the eco­nomics of the is­land and what could be done to bring more aware­ness of the film in­dus­try to Saint Lu­cia.”

He noted that Trinidad and Ja­maica have a boom­ing film in­dus­try, in con­trast to Saint Lu­cia, “which has ev­ery­thing go­ing for it in order to have a vi­brant film in­dus­try but does not.” One of the main rea­sons, Her­man sug­gested, cen­tres on “the need to fo­cus on the ed­u­ca­tional process, in­form­ing peo­ple about the ben­e­fits.” Mean­while Her­man is happy to have gained the sup­port of Saint Lu­cians, home-based as well as many liv­ing in Amer­ica and the United King­dom. “We are, in the words of Sir John Comp­ton, com­ing alive,” he said.

The Mighty Spar­row (right) meets up with one of his big­gest fans af­ter ar­riv­ing here on Thurs­day.

Ed Umoja Her­man.

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