FILMMAKER/ACTOR Donovan Watkis firmly believes Jamaica's fledging industry should train its cameras on National Hero Marcus Garvey and not wait on Hollywood.
"Marcus Garvey is the most important black leader. We have to tell that story. We don't have to wait on American filmmakers to do it for us," Watkis told the Sunday Observer.
The 30-year-old said Garvey's influence is global and everyone can relate to it.
"The stories are told of people Garvey influenced ... Carter G Woodson, W E B DuBois, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. His philosophy is one of self-reliance, black consciousness, black power, and self-development, and we need that right now. Showcasing Marcus Garvey in a romantic, powerful, charming way in a nice scripted story, through film, will be way more powerful than a deejay sing about Garvey," he said.
Watkis said the St Ann-born Garvey was ahead of his time.
"Garvey created his own banking system, where at its zenith was the Black Star Liner, UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) and other movements; he was 'inputting' and 'outputting' over US$5 million. He was ahead of his time. He had millions of followers before social media. He was the original social media man."
Watkis, a former drama teacher at Merl Grove High School, said understanding of self is not embedded in the schools' curriculum.
"And without this understanding, you're destined to fail ... and I'm not talking about failure of subjects, because you have a lot people with subjects and don't know themselves. For instance, we promote external ideas of beauty. Nowadays, females see American Kim Kardashian as their standard of beauty. Our local stations don't have an alternative to that," he continued.
Watkis, whose acting credits include Better Mus' Come, recently premiered his short animation film Cakle at last month's Jamaica Film Festival.
Earlier this year, his 15-minute production, Junior, racked up awards at the Lignum Vitae Film Festival held at the Northern Caribbean University in Manchester. It won Best Cinematography, Best Overall Short Film, Best Post-Production, and he won the Best Overall Actor trophy. He hopes to convert it to a feature film.
Born on August 17, 1887, Marcus Garvey was a passionate advocate for Black nationalism. A civil rights leader, publisher, entrepreneur and orator, he founded the UNIA and African Communities League, as well as the Black Star Line, which promoted mass repatriation of blacks to Africa.
He died in England in June 1940 at age 52.