KINGSTON Paradise — written, produced and directed by Jamaican Mary Wells — secured two prizes at the eighth annual CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase in Canada.

Top: actor Munair Zacca…Bottom: WELLS… our films can be competitive and do appeal to that wider audience

Wells’ debut garnered the Best Feature Film and Audience Award.

“I am excited. I believe this award proves that our films can be competitive and do appeal to that wider audience,” she says.

Kingston Paradise, an urban drama shot in Jamaica, stars Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley and Munair Zacca.

For Wells, it showcases the talent that exists in Jamaica and the need for a structured film industry.

“Systems must be put into place. We are nowhere near where we should be. This needs the full support of the governments of the Caribbean as this hit or miss strategy we are now under is not good enough,” she says. “The arts must be seen in the same light as we do sports. A Usain Bolt does not just fall from the sky but takes years of development to take him to the level he is now at.”

She added that members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) must have dialogue with stakeholders to establish systems such as tax incentives for companies interested in making films in the Caribbean.

Christopher "Johnny" Daley in a scene from "Kingston Paradise"
Christopher “Johnny” Daley in a scene from “Kingston Paradise”

Wells is wary of revealing the budget for Kingston Paradise, but lets on that it is in the region of US$40,000.

“This is not a realistic budget and I don’t want to give the wrong impression as it was only possible because I could draw on contacts I have in the industry. To create a film of this nature you are looking at a budget of US$200,000 to US$250,000.”

She, therefore, sees this level of collaboration among players in the industry as a way to produce small, but viable productions from Jamaica and the Caribbean.

 By Richard Johnson—-
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