Guest post by Terri Francis.
Jamaica’s history with motion pictures radiates in multiple directions within a broad aesthetic and geographic framework that reflects its transnational and multicultural realities. Such an approach challenges a number of conventions in both film studies and Caribbean studies. The division between nonfiction and fiction films becomes less important if we include the cine-parables of the 1950s Jamaica Film Unit, where non-actors played themselves in elaborate fictional scenarios that were meant to educate the public on issues such as farming and dairying techniques (see an example here).
The emphasis on fiction in film history makes it harder to notice the important work in educational, sponsored, promotional, and activist documentary films. And the assumption, supported by concerns about the politics of perception and knowledge, that the pre-independence era holds little of value in terms of film or of cultural authenticity is understandable but maybe a little misleading. (more…)