Kingston Paradise a powerful CTFF contender

Mary Wells’ Kingston Paradise features crime, comedy and some serious soul searching.

Kingston Paradise
Kingston Paradise

The ninth-annual Caribbean Tales International Film Festival (CTFF), returns to Toronto Sept. 3 – 13, showcasing films from 15 selected countries around the region with public, community and online screenings.

The festival includes 10 feature-length and 20 short films in competition for the CTFF Audience Prize, which will be announced on closing night, Sept. 13.

Mary Wells is an award winning independent film director/writer and producer from Jamaica and the U.S., with over 20 years’ experience in TV and film production. Kingston Paradise is her first feature narrative and she is the first woman to do a feature film from Jamaica.

Wells’ cinematic offering continues a successful tradition of Jamaican urban dramas like such breakout films as Third World Cop, The Harder They Come and Dancehall Queen.

Kingston Paradise, the most recent addition, seems to be following the same pattern of success.The film stars Chris ‘Johnny’ Daley, Munair Zacca, Camille Small, Greggory Nelson and Paul Shoucair, alongside other amazing local cast and local and international crew.

It is also produced by Wells and Frances-Anne Solomon. Its original music score is by acclaimed Canadian composer John Welsman.

Location, location, location is the foundation that makes everything else possible in Kingston Paradise. The neighbourhood of Southside near downtown Kingston, Jamaica, becomes the epicenter. When you add in the constant gun violence stinging your ears at every turn, it is easy to see how escapist ideology become all-consuming for the main characters, Rocksy and Rosie.

Not without its comedic leanings, Kingston Paradise serves up liberal helpings of cut eye, patois and sassy mouth setups which are the fabric of classic Jamaican cinema.

Finding himself stuck in the violent ghettos of Kingston, a sympathetic street hustler (Christopher Johnny Daley) Rocksy, devises a daring but not-so-clever plan to steal a fancy sports car, right under the owner’s nose, after which things rapidly go downhill until he finds himself at rock bottom and begins to realize that he has to change in order to fulfill his dreams.

Awards for this movie include: Best Diaspora Feature, African Movie Academia Awards (AMAA) 2014, Festival Programmers Award – Narrative Feature: Pan-African Film Festival 2014 – Audience Award and Special Mention, Best Mention – Caribbean Tales Toronto Film Showcase(2013).