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Capturing island’s diversity

Ralph's Jamerican Fest emphasizes diversity, unity

Producer-actress Sheryl Lee Ralph’s (“Moesha”) enthusiasm for the film business and her love for Jamaica moved her to create the Jamerican Film and Music Festival, Cinema Inna Yard!

In addition to the 25 films screened, the festival will showcase the island’s blend of races and traditions.

“I take the Jamaican motto seriously: ‘Out of many, one people,'” says founder Ralph, who aims to embrace the cinematic world. Films by Indian, Asian, African, West Indian, Caribbean, American and French filmmakers will be screened.

Held at the scenic Wyndham Rose Hall Beach hotel in lush Montego Bay, films are unspooled at the hotel’s Bob Marley Experience theater as well as on the beach as part of Midnight Madness nightly fetes.

Ralph’s commitment to the event is infectious. Each year, she attracts industry heavyweights for seminars, panels and tributes. This year, Marcus Garvey lifetime achievement awards in film and music will be presented to film director, actor and writer Melvin Van Peebles, actor-director-producer Harry Belafonte, and singer and pianist Nina Simone.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Film School will sponsor a three-day digital movie boot camp during the festival. Participants will shoot, edit and complete a short scene to be screened on the festival’s last night. Prizes will be awarded to the best effort.

The Jamaican fest’s emphasis is on diversity and bringing disparate groups together for a dialogue. Adding to the event’s appeal is a cultural exchange fueled by Jamaica’s tropical weather, rum, jerk chicken and reggae music. The festival’s second annual run is slated for Nov. 15-19 and is co-sponsored by Jampro, the island’s economic development commission.

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