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KOTE Film Night - The Good, The Bad and The Questionable

Bruce Hart's Ching Pow a spoof of a Kung Fu cult classic

The dreams and aspirations of would-be and rising filmmakers converged on Redbones the Blues Cafe on Monday (June 25, 2012) for the fourth installment of the The Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) film night. Curated by David Morrison, the event featured approximately 20 short films of varying lengths and skill levels.

Morrison explained that interest from both audience and filmmakers has been growing steadily since its inception. He noted that he is now reaching the point where screening of some films would have to be delayed for another time. “Some of them are quite experimental, so watch with an open mind,” Morrison advised the audience in his brief address at the opening of the night’s screening. It was sound advice.

The screening opened with Kevin Jackson’s Protect and Serve a silent film about a police officer tormented by his having injured and possibly slain a 9 year-old girl. The film was conceptually interesting and treated its subject matter sensitively, but it was hampered by poor lighting.

Bruce Hart's Mr. Bones a James Bond spoof starring ShebadaIndeed, several of the night’s offerings spoke of a willingness to experiment with form and meaning to varying degrees of success. Among these were the Bruce Hart films Ching Pow and Mr. Bones: Secret Agent. Both films are spoofs and are intended to become full-length features. Ching Pow is a hilarious Twin of Twins remix of a Kung Fu cult classic while Mr. Bones, starring Keith ‘Shebada Ramsay’ and Garfield ‘Bad Bwoi Trevor’ Reid, pokes fun at the spy thriller using a mixture of live action and animation. Both films will clearly need further editing before completion, but thus far they offer much hilarity.

Some of the pieces also resulted from other art forms these included the KAO Artists feature of Olivia McGilchrist’s solo exhibition ‘My Dear Daddy’. In a similar vein, Storm and Nile Saulter’s Beyond is a promotional video for the new clothing line by Lubica. It’s an interesting experiment but there is only so much room for story between dresses, so the medium is a little stretched. Nile Saulter’s Here I Am which is a journey through Dakar was an interesting exploration of place, if not so much a tale.

Two experimental pieces by Peter Dean Rickards, Kingston 1996 and Solaris were also a part of the night’s offering. Rather than push the envelope, these two short films seemed to merely push the envelope aside offering method but no meaning. Kingston 1996 offers a glimpse into dancehall while Solaris is a girl on a beach. Rickards’ third offering for the night was the mockumentary  Everything I do is Art. The piece focuses on the ultimate ‘iron balloon’ LA Lewis as he prepares for an art exhibition. It’s a little hard to tell whether Lewis is a part of the joke, or the butt of the joke as he makes grandiose claims about the price his artwork will fetch once it is exhibited in England. Interestingly, Lewis has an exhibition, LA Lewis, Almost Famous, in KOTE 2012 on Friday June 29.

A few documentary pieces were also featured. These included Blood is On Your Shoulder: Bruce Golding and the Tivoli Gardens Massacre a well-intentioned but badly executed exploration of Golding’s responsibility for the tragic slaughter of over 70 people in Tivoli in 2010. Nile and Storm Saulter also presented Astro: The Morning Star an uplifting look at the work of their older brother Astro, who rises about cerebral palsy to create art. Astro will have a solo exhibition at Studio 174 in November.

Several of the films were a blend of the good, the bad and occasionally the outrageous. These included Christopher Byfield’s Red Amber Green, the tale of three young men, who make their living wiping windshields at stoplights. The film is well-intentioned but a little preachy and unrealistic. It however benefits from Byfields’ budding skills as a director and the resulting eye-catching cinematography.

Prisoner 501, written by Darren Scott and Gabrielle Blackwood, and directed by Scott, is the story of an American who is supposedly imprisoned in Mandeville and there he loses his mind. It was another of the films with great cinematography and a weak story.

Ikem Smith and Matthew McCarthy’s Greater was quirky and lost to all meaning, but that was clearly its intention which made it enjoyable. On the other hand, Jahdean Van Gogh’s The Hopeless Place yearned to be an edgy, artsy flick, as the director declared prior to the start of the short. However, curse words and badly shot sex scenes do not an edgy film make. Van Gogh showcases a quirky sense of humour however, and although the film is poor, it has the distinction of bearing the line “There are only two things that make me happy and that’s weed and now you.”