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IF, AS ART critics insist, the world is experiencing a dramatic cultural revolution, then Miami is an excellent example of a place of exciting change.
Miami is a burgeoning metropolis where culture is a lifeblood of daily activity. It is home-away-from-home to as many as 1.5 million people from across the English, Spanish, Creole, French and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. It is also the nexus that links the Western Hemisphere, North America, Europe and Asia.
Standing at that intersection is a group of young Barbadian and other Caribbean film-makers who want to ensure that their fellow millennials aren’t bypassed by the ever-flowing artistic juices that make South Florida a diverse playground for a myriad of cultural tracks that range from music, dance and film to other elements of the visual and performing arts.
One such mover and shaker is Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, a multi-dimensional Bajan artiste, a former student of Harrison College and the Barbados Community College and the 36-year-old son of Margaret Jeffers, a retired meteorologist and real estate agent.
“The thing that I am putting most of attention and energy into right now is a Caribbean film festival this fall, the Third Horizon Caribbean Film Festival,” explained Jeffers, a founder and creative director of the artistic enterprise.
“The Third Horizon is a film-making collective of Caribbean film-makers. We have had great success with our own films and we figure that through that experience we can share resources as well as opportunities we have garnered with other Caribbean film-makers. Already, it has given us a window into a world that other film-makers haven’t necessarily stepped into. We have Caribbean film-makers who are doing fantastic work and what we want to do is to create a space where the best Caribbean creatives can start new collaborations, celebrate each other’s work and connect with resources that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.”
Jeffers and his partners in the Third Horizon Media LlC, including co-founders Keisha Rae Witherspoon and Robert Sawyer, all film-makers, have accumulated considerable experience and recognition by exhibiting their outstanding work at the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Canada’s Toronto International Film Festival and other showcases.
They are now putting their knowledge and creativity that won them accolades into the planning of the festival. The film that brought Jeffers to national and international audiences was Papa Machete, a 12-minute award-winning work that documents the art of using the machete, not simply as a weapon in combat but as a tool of life.
“The machete is the ‘Excalibur’ of the Third World,” Jeffers explained. “I grew up in Barbados originally so it’s just something you’d see all over. “It’s a tool, a weapon, it’s whatever you need it to be.”
The film, shot in Haiti, documents what is a martial art of machete fencing. Interestingly, it brings back memories of “stick-licking” a dying art in Barbados.” Papa Machete had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2014 and was a major attraction at Sundance the following year.
A graduate of Florida International University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism that opened the doors to a writing career at the Miami Herald and other leading publications, Jeffers readily acknowledges it was Papa Machete that made him connect with film-making.
The inaugural Caribbean film, art and music festival to be held in the Wynwood Arts District will premiere new Caribbean films.
“Our hope is that in staging this festival in our arts district in Miami we will help to bring Caribbean people into the fold of what’s happening,” said the Barbadian musician, film-maker and writer.
Tony Best is the NATION’S North American correspondent.