Storm Saulter is one of Jamaica’s most prominent young film-makers . With the panoptic gaze of interchangeable dancehall djs staring down from Digicell and Lime Tv advertisements, the hype cycle of radio and the frantic rotation of fashion and dance moves you couldn’t be blamed for not realizing that Kingston has a thriving if limited independent arts scene. The best and brightest all seem linked to Edna Manley – but Storm actually finished up film school in the states. After seeing his latest video for Tarrus Riley, and sitting in on a press screening of his full length Better Mus Come I sent over some questions about Jamaican politics, the challenges of independent film making and what drove Storm to leave behind the opportunity and infrastructure of Los Angeles.
T: You were born in Jamaica, but went to film school and worked in Los Angeles, given how limited the Jamaican film industry is, why return to the island to work?
S: It seems better to start a movement and build it from the beginning than to be just another person trying to make a statement in the same space as thousands of others trying to do the same thing. We are defining new Caribbean cinema with the work we are doing now. Lots of young people (and a few older ones) in Jamaica and the region are seeing filmmaking as a real and exciting possibility for them right now. Better Mus’ Come is the beginning of a real movement.
T: The space you work in is shared by a bunch of other young filmmakers- can you tell me a bit about the space, who is there and how you all came to work together. What is the ethos and purpose of New Caribbean?
S: I share an office with my brother Nile Saulter, Joel Burke, and Michelle Serieux. We are all filmmakers and we collaborate on all our projects together in different capacities. Directing, Producing, Cinematography, Editing, Writing. Our office is at 10a West Kings House Road, Perry Henzell’s home and production office during the creation of “The Harder They Come”. We share the property with a number of Directors and Producers. Ras Kassa, Ras Tingle, Jay Will. It is unquestionably the home of Jamaican filmmaking.
For more on New Caribbean Cinema go to www.newcaribbeancinema.com
T: Both the Tarrus video and Better Mus Come seem to deal with a similar type of historical amnesia- the way that systems of power attempt to limit certain types of information and stories in order to be able to continue propegating themselves. How do you see your work in creating new historical narratives or re-examining power?
S: Better Mus Come has had such an explosive impact in Jamaica because it is telling a story that we all know of, but we never knew the details. We would hear our parents speak of the 1970’s, The Cold War era, when Kissinger came to Jamaica and threatened Michael Manley and Jamaica with annihilation if we didn’t step away from Cuba. The beginning of this gang war tradition. There is a reason we were not taught this in school, so that events like the Tivoli massacre would seem like a new development that needed to be solved using brutal force by the Police and Military. But this is not new, it has only evolved from the same source. I guarantee you that many more of these ‘hidden’ stories will be told by this generation of filmmakers. And to be able to do so is empowering to the artists and the people.
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW AFTER THE JUMP