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Ring Di Alarm: Diverse and Engaging
Tenor Saw’s 'Ring Di Alarm' was a game changer for Dancehall and Reggae music, heralding in the rise of digitally produced tunes. So it’s not surprising that when they were attempting to name a film they wanted to use to herald change in the landscape of Caribbean film, the New Caribbean Cinema collective borrowed the title. The long anticipated anthology film Ring Di Alarm finally touched down in Jamaican cinemas, for what was initially to be a one time screening at the Carib Cinemas, to a sold out audience.
Ring Di Alarm contains seven short films made by six directors: The Young Sea and Coast (Nile Saulter), Parish Bull (Michael ‘Ras Tingling’ Tingle), Sunday (Kyle Chin), My Vote (Joel Burke), Missed (Michelle Serieux) and I Saw Him Kissing Her (Storm Saulter). Unlike the genre defining Je T’aime Paris, Ring Di Alarm does not present a thematic whole, which in a way allows it to easily bear the mantle of being a portmanteau or suitcase film. Like any authentic Caribbean suitcase, it is packed with good hearty stuff to chew on.
Jamaica’s cinematic efforts have in the main veered toward the gritty and gripping streets of Kingston’s underbelly. So, the diversity of the shorts within, is one of Ring Di Alarm’s strongest elements. The film provides a diverse look at Jamaica both in terms of the characters, themes and the vistas presented.
The film sweeps from the coast of St. Thomas across to the other side of island to the craggy cliffs of Negril. It also sweeps up into the misty mountains as well as tracks into inner lanes of Kingston and St. Andrew.
The diversity is also evident in the themes. The anthology opens with tales of death and goes on to brush against redemption, vengeance, the pitfalls of lust, and partisan politics. It is also stylistically diverse, with each director comng to the table with something different.
Ring Di Alarm includes some strikingly cinematic works. Most notable are Coast and Missed, interestingly, also two of the earliest completed chapters in the film. Watching Him Kissing Her is an interesting experiment in the marriage of the cinematic arts and spoken word poetry. Alas it is a flawed marriage as toward its climax the poetic narrative devolves into a shrieking performance which creates some dissonance with the otherwise elegant film.
Parish Bull and Sunday are the least cinematically stylish, but both are engaging and provide easy to follow plot lines, and will probably resound most strongly with mass audiences. With its take on a popular legend, Parish Bull proffers some humourous moment which help to lighten the film.
With My Vote Burke has turned his attention to politically motivated violence, seeming to have veered away from his usually quirky and fun fare presented in Bad Lucky and Candy Shop. Fortunately, My Vote it still bears a little of Burke’s sense of humour and his wonderful comedic timing.
Ring Di Alarm also packs quite a bit of star power. The cast includes, Winston ‘Bello’ Bell, Karen Harriott and Volier Johnson as well as Oneil Peart and Sheldon Shepherd of Nomaddz.
The film has been in production for over half a decade. Though they didn’t dwell on it, it was clear that a part of the luggage the portmanteau film has been lugging around is the difficulty of getting into local cinemas.
“It’s great to see a full cinema,” Storm Saulter, co-producer of Ring Di Alarm said. “It’s time that we start to seeing local film as not such a gamble.”
Ras Tingle was more blatant in his appeal, stating that he was sending a message to cinema monopoly Palace Amusement, that the country needs to make space for screening local films.
“We need a local film day,” Ras Tingle said. “Even if it s just one day every three months,” he said.
In her opening remarks, co-producer Michelle Serieux explained that Ring Di Alarm was a completely collaborative and self-funded effort.
“I really want to say that the most important thing is the camaraderie and the collaboration,” said Michelle Serieux co-producer. She noted that the way the film had been made had been inspiring as they took the film on a global festival trod. Each film was shot in a day (with the exception of Parish Bull which was done in a day and a half) with the members of the crew taking on different roles for each film.
“What we trying to do is to take away the perceived biggest barrier to making a film,” Storm Saulter said, explaining that Ring Di Alarm was extremely low budget.
The filmmakers are hoping it will be a clarion call to both future filmmakers and others to believe in the potential power of the local film industry.
Indeed, although Ring Di Alarm was initially granted only a single screening, the overwhelming demand has guaranteed them a second screening on Saturday, August 16, 2014 and possibly a third on Sunday (August 17) August 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm at Carib 5
Details as to ticket outlets were not available at the time of posting.
Edited: August 18, 2014 to reflect change in the date for the second screening