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Hollywood Heads to Jamaica

Variety logo Variety 2/27/2017 Anna Marie de la Fuente
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Hollywood is coming to Jamaica. Leading screenwriters, TV showrunners and producers are set to participate as mentors at ScreenCraft’s inaugural Screenwriters Residency Program in partnership with Jamaica’s Calabash International Literary Festival and the Jamaican Film & TV Association (JAFTA).

“Jamaica may have a small filmmaking community but it has a very strong literary and music tradition; they’re keen to build a bridge between Hollywood and Jamaica’s artistic community,” said ScreenCraft head John Rhodes.

The program, to be held on Treasure Beach from Sept, 12-16, will comprise a week of panels, writing sessions, one-on-one mentorship and local gourmet food and drink. Mentors include Peter Craig, the WGA Award-nominated screenwriter of “The Town” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”; Sony Pictures VP of production Eric Fineman; Zack Estrin, showrunner of Fox’s “Prison Break” and Netflix’s upcoming “Lost in Space,” as well as Hannah Ozer, a literary manager at Kaplan/Perrone.

“The Calabash International Literary Festival is a huge partnership win for us and we look forward to some high-quality writers and significant creative partnership that emerge from this unique program,” said Rhodes, who plans to make this program an annual event.

Held every other year, the next Calabash Fest is slated for June 1-3, 2018. Founded in 2001 by the Jamaican novelist Colin Channer, poet Kwame Dawes and producer/JAFTA board member Justine Henzell, the Calabash Int’l Literary Festival has attracted the likes of Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith. Henzell’s late father, Perry Henzell, helmed the first Jamaican feature film, 1972’s “The Harder They Come.”

The program is offering full scholarships to four qualifying aspiring film and television screenwriters, and accepting up to 10 tuition-paying attendees. The early application deadline is March 30 and the final application deadline is April 20. Applications are currently being accepted at screencraft.org/jamaica.

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