Red Fashion Film Festival recognises World AIDS Day
On Saturday, December 1, the Red Fashion Film Festival invited designers and film-makers to the Courtleigh Auditorium to recognise World AIDS Day in a fashionable and cinematic way - building awareness and sensitivity around the issue.
The programme's outline interspersed film screenings with runway presentations. Following the films and fashion, the evening was to conclude with a panel discussion, led by original Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee Ralph. Instead, the interspersed layout caused the festival proceedings to drag on much longer than many audience members could stand, and most left the auditorium as the stagehands prepared the set for the discussion.
Sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), National Family Planning Board, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, Andre Rowe Designs and The DIVA Foundation, the Red Fashion Film Festival opened with locally produced films. "We wanted Jamaicans to see other Jamaicans on screen. The aim for the night is not just to be fashionably red, but to take a look at the films and understand what Jamaicans go through," director of Andre Rowe Designs, Wayne-J Davis, said.
Unintentional, produced by Deron Campbell, was the first of five films screened during the event. The storytelling was rather roundabout, carrying too many players for such a short story. Nonetheless, the film demonstrated some technical prowess, with beautiful landscape shots and overhead drone action. It was followed by Changes, produced by Leone Mitchell. The simple story bounced between comedic and harrowed, but it was effective, as it pulled out a collective 'aww' from the rapt audience at the end.
The screenings were paused to display Saffron Maxwell's collection, the first of the three runway presentations, before the screening resumed with Spread It, produced by Lehard Colthirst, and Blood Walk, produced by Stewy Stew - followed by a runway presentation by Rozan Stewart.
Director and executive producer Nathan Hale Williams wrote 90 Days after a friend contracted the virus. "His concern was not the treatment of it, but that he was never going to find love. That broke my heart, so I wrote a love story about HIV/AIDS," he told The Gleaner.
90 Days has been on the film festival circuit since 2017, and was invited to participate in the festival by Sheryl Lee Ralph, founder of The DIVA Foundation and advocate. "It's just a way for all of us to come together and put energy and attention around removing the stigma around HIV/AIDS, and also educating our communities. People of colour are disproportionately affected across the globe - it's a way for us to have a celebration, as well as an education," he said.
Nic Few, lead actor in 90 Days, was also present. "I want my work to entertain, but also enlighten. I feel like if you're not educating while you're entertaining, it gets a little close to minstrel. I hope this movie informs people, makes them cry, makes them think about their choices," Few said.
The awareness campaign continued to Sunday, December 2, on the lawns of Devon House - with a health fair, hosted by comedian Christopher 'Johnny' Daley, exercise sessions by Kurt Dunn of Body By Kurt, and a garden picnic party, hosted by Jenny Jenny, featuring performances by D'Voyce and The No-Maddz.