By Ariadne Sawyer, MA. The Afro News Vancouver
*Mighty Jerome, NFB Film. Dir.Charles Officer, Exec Prod. Tracey Frieson, Selwyn Jacob Prod. Mighty Jerome explores the turbulent life and career of the record setting track and field star. “Besides being a champion athlete, Harry Jerome was also a champion of equal opportunities.” Jacob says. *Source: VIFF.
A Dream Realized.
The producer of Warrior Boys, The Journey of Lesra Martin, Jacob is also the producer of the NFB film Mighty Jerome shown at the Vancouver International Film festival.
For many years, ever since hearing about Harry when he was a young man in Trinidad, Selwyn wanted to make a film about him. Jerome almost came to Trinidad but had to cancel at the last minute due to injury. “The next time I heard about him was when a professor told the class that “Jerome was a quitter.” I wanted to find out more. Finally years later I went to hear Harry speak at a motivational seminar. I did not meet him but it was enough. I wanted to show to the world the little known aspects of Harry’s life.”
Jacob said that “the dream was embedded in my mind for years.”
It has now come true in this powerful film full of archival footage and interviews with those who were close to Jerome. Years after of working with the NFB, initially there to help minority film makers get some equality; Jacobs is finally able to realize his dream. The high point of the film came when he received a positive and enthusiastic verification from the NFB. “It was like all things came together,” he said.
The most difficult part was in dealing with the archives which had to be paid by the second and get clearance to ensure that they could be used for the purposes needed in the film.
Jacob specializes in bring the often unknown stories of black heroes who otherwise may not be heard and seen. He currently is working on 4-5 projects and in the future would like to make a film on Pullman Porters.
It was a great honour to be able to interview this empowered producer. The positive and work that he does for Canada and Afro Canadian’s is of great importance.
When asked for a message for the readers of the Afro News, Selwyn replied: “The Afro News in a gem. Keep on saving the community.”
If you have the opportunity, see the film and visit Harry Jerome’s statue in Stanley Park. He is indeed a hero.
Dear Cherished Afro News Readers,
Recently, I had the honour to interview two of the new Good Morning Africa Series filmmakers at VIFF. It was exciting to hear them bring their passion and drive to their works of film art. They made the films come alive for me. I will put the synopsis first, followed by the interview notes.
Bush League USA, Dir: Cy Kuckenbaker www.cysfilm.com
The players on the Tony Bombers football team in Zokolere, Malawi, serve as a microcosm for on-the-ground look at social progress – and the lack thereof – in that Malawian village. The team’s engaging players shed light on their issues and concerns while the film as a whole captures the frustrations faced by Westerners trying to “do good.” *Source VIFF.
Kuckenbaker‘s first feature film (“A serendipity film”) shows the amazing power that propelled him as he created a film with no outside funding. He confronted and overcame the multiple adversities that surfaced and created an exquisite example of art through serendipity.
His car’s transmission blew up, his video work dried up due to the Real Estate crunch in the United States, a film delivery mix up that resulted in his having just enough film to shoot with his only camera were only some of the challenges that he faced . Cy illustrated that with conviction, love, belief and intent almost anything is possible. He mentioned that it was important to step away from the film and let the art come through him. Perhaps this is how he was able to make the film.
Cy has a great connection with Africa and hopes to create more films in the future. Perhaps Africa called “Come Home! Come back my children, come back. Visit me once again” called out to him also. (From my dream poem “Come Home”)
Cy’s message to the readers of the Afro News: “African’s deserve dignity and respect.”
Look for more films from this talented filmmaker.
Germany, Dirs: Claus Wischmann, Martin Baer. www.sounding-images.de
Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer’s film shows how people living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world – Kinshasa, in the war-driven Democratic Republic of Congo – have managed to forge one of the most complex systems of human cooperation ever invented: a symphony orchestra. “An ode to joy.” – The Economist. *Source: VIFF.
This first feature film by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer is a fascinating peek into the lives of the musicians in the only all black amateur symphony in the world. It shows their drive, discipline and commitment as they work in the city of Kinshasa and go to rehearsals five times per week. The sharing of classical music in areas that have never heard it before is very moving.
Pianist Claus Wischmann‘s passion for music was illustrated when I asked him what was the high point of the film. He replied: “It was when they played a very strong performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, it touched my heart-I was so full of emotion. For me, it is unbelievable that this orchestra is in the Congo and that the musicians are empowered with so much energy.”
Claus also mentioned the creativity and ingenuity that permeated the orchestra. In one example, the conductor was a double bass player but ended up teaching the entire string section how to play. If they needed an instrument, they would make one. If they could not afford or get strings, they made them from bike wire.
When they decided to make the film three and a half years ago, they had no funding. When the trailer was made, the response was so enthusiastic that enough funding came in. Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer are looking for Canadian and US distributors. We hope they will get distribution.
His messages to the Afro News readers: See the film. It is very positive and uplifting.”
The Kinsala Symphony won a VIFF Most Popular Nonfiction Film AwardThe audience chose KINSHASA SYMPHONY (Germany),directed by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer for the VIFF most popular Nonfiction Film Award. This German film set in the Democratic Republic of Congo shows how people living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world find joy by playing classical music.
“The Afro News is delighted and proud to see how the African world has improved in film. The opportunities for youth to express themselves in the art of filming have shown great progress.” Honore Gbedze, publishe
These awards have certainly given our team a boost, as they are African-film only awards, we hope now we can start to reach new audiences as well in Canada and internationally.” Nathan Collett.
VIFF Festival Director and CEO: “VIFF has experienced an incredible increase in the number of submitted films set in sub-Saharan Africa. We hope to continue the series next year.” Alan Franey.