August 13 2012 – Ghett’a Life screened at the 2011 Caribbean Tales Film Festival to an oversold audience. People crammed the cinema at Harbourfront Centre, spilling over into the aisles and even sitting on the floor just to watch the most talked about film of the year. Now Canadians have the chance to experience Ghett’a Life in Toronto from August 27 – September 2 at Albion Cinema.
Ghett’a Life is an “against the odds” drama set in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Director Chris Browne describes the main character Derrick, as an ‘underground Jamaican Rocky Balboa’. Derrick is a young athlete who literally fights for his dream of being a champion boxer while facing a country, community and family conflicted by a divisive political system.
The film is 100% Jamaican; committed to an authentic depiction of what life is and what life can be in the inner city of Kingston. Director Chris Browne says that was his goal from the beginning. “The story was inspired in Jamaica by Jamaicans. The cast, crew and funding are all Jamaican. It was suggested to me many times that I should cast known, foreign actors to make the film more marketable to the world audience but I wanted this film to feel authentic to the Jamaicans watching it in Jamaica and abroad,” says Browne.
Even before production, the film won an award for Best Script at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. This year, the film won Best International Film at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and shared the Jury Award at the Aruba International Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Feature at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Ghett’a Life has enjoyed widespread popularity in Jamaica, running for 12 weeks straight against Hollywood Blockbusters like Transformers 3; Ghett’a Life became the island’s highest grossing film in 2011. “The response in Jamaica was overwhelming. Friends would call me from the cinema and hold up their cell phone at the end of the film so I could hear the audience on their feet cheering and clapping,” says Browne.
Browne says the film’s wild success is likely due to the authenticity of the story. “I believe that the Jamaican audience saw themselves in the film, and like the characters in the film, they want change in their lives. I wanted to make a film about what is happening in downtown Kingston and how it affects the people on a day to day basis. This film is about a boy who struggles to overcome his obstacles to succeed, man against the system, which I feel is a universal theme; something that everyone can identify with.”