It’s a theme that’s all too familiar in the Jamaican stories that light up the celluloid screen, one that touches on the polarising power of politics and the seemingly institutionalised violence that plays out as a tragic corollary in garrison communities. Chris Browne’s “Ghett’a Life” is the latest in the line of such films, and it finds the “Third World Cop” director telling a strong story that navigates along a trajectory of hope amidst the gunfire, bloodshed and political division that plague inner-city areas.
Clinically shot by seasoned American cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (The Messenger, Arlington Road) and edited by Joel Burke, the film has been enjoying a good cinematic run since its release at the end of July. Ten years in the making, Ghett’a Life has succeeded in opening the door for the next generation of actors, such as the young protagonist Kevoy Burton, whose character Derrick has to fight his way out of the ghetto in the boxing ring and in the streets. Odaine Clarke, who plays the role of his friend, Big Toe, and Lisa Williams (currently a contestant in Miss Jamaica World 2011), who features as Derrick’s love interest Camella, both offer strong support.
Clearly emerging as one to watch is Kadeem Wilson, whose turn as Gully Rat, Derrick’s rival on the other side of the political divide, has been earning positive reviews. His strong screen presence and feel for the role has him stealing scenes, at times with just the power of his facial expression alone. The all-Jamaican cast is further bolstered by Christopher McFarlane, who cuts a mean figure as the ruthless don Sin, Winston “Bello” Bell, Carl Davis, Teddy Price, Lenford Salmon, Munair Zacca and Jamaican-born Canadian actress Karen Robinson. Reggae artiste Etana also makes a cameo appearance in the film.
On the immediate horizon for Ghett’a Life is a premiere at the sixth annual CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, September 13 at the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. The Showcase is co-produced with the Harbourfront Centre, and partners include Animae Caribe Animation and New Media Festival, The Consulate General for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Toronto, First Fridays, Green Light Artist Management, the International Development Research Centre, Pennant Media Group, Planet 3 Entertainment, Taffe Entertainment, Toon Boom Animation, the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies, and WHATZHAPPNG.