Umoja Communications Company Inc, headed by Ed Umoja Herman, will be hosting its 3rd annual Piton International Film Festival here from August 15-21. The festival aims to foster unity within diverse families, giving them an opportunity to watch, discuss, learn, and enjoy films together.
According to organisers, the festival comprises a 12-month programme focused on celebrating, educating, exploring, and understanding the various aspects of skill and trade needed in the filmmaking process. “The Piton Film Festival seeks to create economic and employment opportunities for individuals, especially Saint Lucians,” said Herman this week.
The roster of events includes a media-day lunch at Blu Hotel, seminars, film screenings, a red carpet open night film, a poetry jam and a recognition award ceremony.
According to Herman, “Sir John Compton, back in the 90s, put out a call to overseas nationals to come back home to help build and make our country better.”
Herman returned with his mother to Saint Lucia and was reintroduced to local life by Jerry George. He began working here from 1998. As a freelance photographer Herman has photographed the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival annually.
“I had lots of key connections as a photographer working with leading people in America. I was the Rev. Al Sharpton’s personal photographer and worked with Jessie Jackson and the lawyer Johnnie Cochran,” Herman revealed during a recent interview.
He was also behind the launching of Sisters in Harmony, a non-profit organisation in the U.S. He said: “An American sister and I started the Piton Film Festival and when she branched off I continued the initiative, rebranding as the Piton International Film Festival (PIFF) in 2015.
After hosting three events as PIFF, we looked at the economics of the island and what could be done to bring more awareness of the film industry to Saint Lucia.”
He noted that Trinidad and Jamaica have a booming film industry, in contrast to Saint Lucia, “which has everything going for it in order to have a vibrant film industry but does not.”
One of the main reasons, Herman suggested, centres on “the need to focus on the educational process, informing people about the benefits.” Meanwhile Herman is happy to have gained the support of Saint Lucians, home-based as well as many living in America and the United Kingdom.
“We are, in the words of Sir John Compton, coming alive,” he said.