GATTFest: Creative Entrepreneurs

The creative industries are an area of major potential growth for the Caribbean economy and society. Caribbean cultural forms such as Carnival, steelpan, reggae, dancehall and more, have all resonated on the global stage and become part of multi-million dollar industries (from tourism to music). The ability for the region to capitalize on these inventions to the benefit of the Caribbean people depends on support for connecting creativity to entrepreneurship, ownership and business development.

One such effort, the Greater August Town Film Festival (, the fastest growing community film festival in the Caribbean, has been led by the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research at The UWI Mona Campus. The spirit of GATFFEST is one of social and community upliftment, cooperation and human development.

Director Ian Boxill, Professor of Management Studies, puts it this way: "We are not merely a film festival… GATTFEST is fast becoming the catalyst and the medium for story tellers converging in Jamaica, exchanging thoughts and ideas and critically advancing the filmmaking techniques on par with the best in the world."

The festival not only showcases local, regional and international films, but it also aims to develop the Caribbean film industry, by equipping independent filmmakers. Now in its fourth year, GATFFEST is organized annually under the auspices of The UWI Community Film Project (UWICFP), as a space for social commentary, expression and community participation. The festival, now held in multiple locations in Kingston and Montego Bay, includes workshops on grassroots and independent filmmaking, and a School Competition that encouraged students from 25 high schools to create and submit films.

The UWI Community Film Project is a unique initiative to train young people from troubled communities in the technical and artistic elements of filmmaking. Funded by the World Bank, this project took place in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

Last summer, 18 young people from seven communities participated in the training programme. Mona Sue-Ho, Social Development Manager at JSIF told The Jamaica Gleaner that "JSIF will be utilizing the skills of these filmmakers to create videos to support social marketing campaigns aimed at public education."

Since its inception, the Community Film Project has trained over 130 young people, through partnerships with the Office of the Campus Principal, the Grace Kennedy Foundation and other supporters. According to Prof. Boxill, "Many of the[se young people] have grasped the opportunity and gone on to excel as videographers, editors, animators...", becoming the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.