By Jasminee Sahoye
It’s a gripping and sensational movie, mixed with suspense, raw emotions and a really good story line. The level of the actors and actresses can be easily compared to some of the big names in Hollywood.
The movie, Diary of a Badman, will have it’s Canadian premiere at the gala opening of Caribbean International Film Festival on Wednesday, September 7 at the Royal Theatre, Toronto.
Winner of the Best Narrative Feature at the 2015 Jamaican Film Festival, it’s described as a modern day crime drama which breaks the mold of the typical representations of the “bad” person and undercover cop.
The first distinguishing feature is that the main protagonist is female, an undercover police officer, Simone Williams, played by Jacinth Sutphin, a Jamaican native, who has been living in New York since age 13.
She wanted to prove her strength as an officer in the New York Police Force. He was an ambitious drug dealer. Yet as Detective, Simone Williams finally gets her chance to go undercover to catch Winston Bailey aka Bucky.
She find that instead of the hard-line criminal, there is a man behind the mask and lines blur, as Munchy, her undercover persona, grows more and more connected to Bucky. She becomes a virtual diary that records his transformation from one dimensional to complex.
Sutphin told The Caribbean Camera from her New York home that she is thrilled to play the leading role as her first, although she has been acting plays in her church and community theatres.
Her portrayal as a powerful woman in a male dominated field is a role she said fits into her personal life.
“With me I’m also career driven, I’m that type, where I’m would not anyone get me to turn away from my dream, from being successful and follow my heart…. It was not hard to bring Simone to life. We had a lot of similarity,” said Sutphin.
She added that actress Kerry Washington’s role in the TV series “Scandal” has been an inspiration for the role she plays in Diary of a Badman. “There’s nothing too hard for a woman, we can do anything, once you put your mind to it.”
The movie maker/director, Diemiyuaya Deniran was born in London and moved to New York in 1996. He is a self-taught independent filmmaker, who has written and produced several film projects and has been behind the camera and handling audio recording equipment since the age of 10.
He told The Caribbean Camera that he wanted to show ” a different side of a gangster. What I have seen, especially in black gangster film, the gangster is always senseless. There is really no objective…. Nobody glorifies the gangster lifestyle and I didn’t wanted to glorify it I just want to show a different side to it. I also wanted to put an African American female in a stronger role and I haven’t seen too many roles like that available and that was the motivation behind this film. I also wanted to change the stereotype of how they view a gangster….”
“Making movies gives me one of the greatest feelings because I am able to send my messages with very little barriers or prejudices. People often shut their minds down because they will focus on the messenger and disregard the message he or she is conveying. I don’t just place my messages in the movies, I try to create opposition to the messages in hopes that it will cause the audience to think a little deeper,” Deniran said.
“In Diary of a Badman, I explore more than a ruthless drug lord’s desire for money and power for selfish gains. I gave him a purpose, something that is driving him to pursue a lifestyle that has a very high chance of ending in a negative way,” he said.
“If I wear a fitted baseball cap, some jeans and sneakers, many people will consider me a threat automatically. If I wear a hooded sweatshirt I could be in danger of losing my life, all because people have a preconceived notion of what evil looks like,” Deniran remarked.
In attendance at the gala opening will be, Deniran, lead actress/co-producer Sutphin and actor/co-producer Richard Bird.
A Q&A/Talk Back with all the directors and lead actors will follow.
CTFF runs from September 7-17, 2016 at the Royal Theatre, 608 College St, Toronto with a number of short and feature films from around the Caribbean, Canada and New York.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.caribbeantales.ca/CTFF and on-site one hour before each screening at The Royal Cinema.