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New Caribbean Cinema Gets Ready to 'Ring Di Alarm' With New Film

Nile Saulter's Coast from Ring Di Alarm

A new Caribbean film is trying to blaze its own path in London, following in the wake of the trail blazed by Jamaican and other Caribbean athletes at the recently ended 30th Olympiad. Ring Di Alarm, an anthology film created by the collective New Caribbean Cinema is slated to have its first theatrical screening at the British Film Institute on September 2, 2012.

Ring Di Alarm comprises seven short films from six directors and aims to be the clarion call signaling the arrival of a new wave of films and filmmakers from the Caribbean. The project was launched in the JAMPRO training room, New Kingston, on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. As NCC co-founders Michelle Serieux and Storm Saulter explained, the film is being used as a tool to garner greater attention for emerging filmmakers from the region.

Storm Saulter (left) and Michelle Serieux (right)Gillian Wilkinson McDaniel, Creative Industries Senior Consultant described the New Caribbean Cinema project as representative of the new generation of filmmakers in the region. “JAMPRO believes that this set of short films that is being taken not just to the rest of the Caribbean but to the rest of the world, are the beginning of our telling new stories,” she said congratulating the filmmakers. The producers gave much kudos to JAMPRO for their support of the initiative.

Ring Di Alarm has been in the making since 2010 with two of its earliest pieces Coast and Missed having been screened at different occasions and steadily gathering attention for the project. Indeed, Missed (written and directed by Serieux) was included in the Court Métrage at Cannes 2012.

Serieux and Saulter explained that they fully intend to maximize on the heightened awareness of Brand Jamaica in London subsequent to the Olympics. "The fact that we're going there on the heels of our athletes dominating , we feel like they softened them up and now we're gonna finish them off," laughs Saulter. The film was created with a number of objectives including allowing emerging filmmakers to practice their craft at home, make a dent in the traditional, Hollywood dominated film industry and provide an outlet to showcase their creative work.

“It’s an ideological coup as well,” Serieux said. “We’re not just going the traditional distribution route. This really is an independent film,” she said. As such they will be trying an array of distribution methods mixing the traditional and the independent.

The two directors explained that the films were self-funded and largely made through the exchange of sweat and creative equity. Each film was shot over a day and each director was a part of the crew in each other’s film. Serieux pointed out that they deliberately wanted projects that could be shot quickly so as to not impose too much on the time of both cast and crew members as they were not being compensated.

(l-r) Nile Saulter, Storm Saulter, Michelle Serieux, Kyle Chin, Christopher Hutchinson"This formula could really be a key as to how Caribbean cinema can really take off," Saulter said. Saulter and Serieux also pointed out that ideally the collective should have input from across the Caribbean, however of the group five of the directors are Jamaican and one (Serieux) is St. Lucian. Ring Di Alarm features shorts by Storm Saulter (Watching Him Kissing Her), Michelle Serieux (Missed), Kyle Chin (Sunday), Nile Saulter (Coast and The Young Sea), Joel Burke (My Vote) and Michael ‘Ras Tingle’ Tingling whose Parish Bull was screened on Wednesday morning.

Parish Bull, staring Christopher Hutchinson touches on the supernatural. Tingling explained via a video message that the film, written by Kurt Wright, is based on one of the legends coming from the Kendall Crash. The story surrounds an air conditioner repairman whose trip to St. Thomas delivers a ghostly encounter.

Yet Ring Di Alarm’s journey from concept to reality has not been without change as some films that had previously been conceived as a part of the project were subsequently removed. Saulter, whose own Fowl Pill was dropped from the project explained it was important that they remained uncompromising. “As a filmmaker you have to learn when to say yes and when to say no,” he said. He also noted that with a feature already under his belt, he had to be mindful of the films that he put out there. Other films were removed from the anthology when for various reasons their directors failed to deliver.

Seretse Small, who scored Parish Bull as well as Missed, described the collaborative methodology used by NCC as an example of “Jamaican civilization”, a way of coming together and helping each other. Serieux also commended the established actors such as Karen Hariott, Winston Bell and Volier Johnson, who willingly donated their time and brand to the project.

Subsequent to its screening at the BFI, Ring Di Alarm will begin making the film festival rounds, starting with the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. The film is slated to premier in Jamaica at the end of the year.