Antigua & Barbuda will fund ‘Rebels’

The government of Antigua recently earmarked $20 to $80 million of its budget sealing a deal that will spotlight “Rebels,” a film about Robert Nesta Marley.

Allegedly, one-fifth of a total $125 million development deal decided between the government of Antigua and Golden Island Filmworks, the agreement dictates that five feature films will be shot on the island.

Announced at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, reportedly, the deal was struck by the independent film company owned and operated by St. Kitts-born film producer Rudy Langlais.

“My partners and I had a dream more than 10 years ago, that the Caribbean, which has produced brilliant statesmen like Alexander Hamilton, Nobel Prize-winning poets and novelists, Walcott and Naipaul, legendary athletes like (Garfield) Sobers and (Vivian) Richards and (Usain) Bolt, and perhaps the world’s greatest cultural icon in Bob Marley, should add its ‘voice’ now to filmmaking,” Langlais explained.

His main partners in the venture are entrepreneur Valmiki Kempadoo, producer Don Allan and veteran film executive Neil Sacker.

“We have wanted to join our colleagues around the world to share our stories and join in telling stories together,” Langlais added. “Now that time is here. Exciting films will come of this collaboration.”

From the title, it is safe to believe that the Rastafarian reggae icon will not be the sole focus of the feature.

From early reports, along with the iconic musician a spotlight will shine on four men who discovered and mentored him through his journey to worldwide fame.

Already, the film company has acquired the life stories of Danny Sims, Allan “Skill” Cole, Johnny Nash, and David Simmons – the men who signed, developed, and produced Marley in the initial stages of his career.

From those insider perspectives, the film is expected to provide new insight and unprecedented information about Marley’s life before he became the first Third World superstar.

Nash, the founder of JAD Records was first to sign the now-legendary singer/musician.

Sims, who died in 2012 at age 75 was Nash’s partner and another principal to be spotlighted.

Allegedly, the film will examine Marley’s career growth after meeting the Mississippi-born Sims and Nash, a Texan he met in Kingston, Jamaica during the late 1960s.

It is widely known that Sims successfully secured a deal for Nash with CBS Records. With that commercial relationship, the two hired Marley to write several songs including the hit JAD recording “Stir it Up.”

During that period, the Jamaican singer recorded with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, with releases credited to Bob Marley & The Wailers.

Reportedly, the film company has secured the rights to never-before-released JAD Records catalogue which include much of the early Marley music.

In addition to biographical details from the revolutionary music investors, previously unreleased information about the early life of the reggae legend and songs from Marley’s pre-fame career fans will be delighted with this alternative from the deluge of so-called definitive biopics on the Caribbean music legend.

Production of “Rebels” will begin shortly and add to a growing list of movies that credit Langlais, who is acclaimed for his work in the movie “The Hurricane” a biopic about a Black American boxer who was convicted of a crime he allegedly did not commit.

The film was critically acclaimed and starred Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Another much revered film by Langais featured actor Wesley Snipes in the lead role of “Sugar Hill.”

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA “GONE FUNKY”

Following a red-carpet procession at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel recently which featured Colombian Paulina Vega, Miss Universe, fashion-forward Costa Rican pop singer, Debi Nova, an appearance from Academy-award winner Forrest Whitaker and video messages from former President Bill Clinton, actors Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas and presentations to honorees, music dominated the evening’s celebration of achievements of the Global south.

Musician Sheila E was in rare form joining her famous father Pete Escovedo to jam her monster hit “The Glamorous Life.”

Noteworthy though, was a moment when musician Paul Shaffer accepted the cultural achievement recognition award.

Making a grand appearance since exiting the now-defunct David Letterman Late Night Show, he proved unlike his boss, he was not retiring after 33-years on television and after an introduction from musician Jean Baptiste — who is the new musical director of the Stephen Colbert hosted “Late Show” — lavished praises on his “two favorite islands” — Antigua and Barbuda.

After bowing to his prestigious honor, the Canadian-American said he wanted to play a song in tribute to the A&B islands.

The black-tie guests seemed anxious to hear Shaffer’s selection and also tested the tune he considered worthy of the accolades to his favored Caribbean spots.

Backed by Ray Chew and band-members who donned shades akin to the Blues Brothers eye-wear, he invited his long-time musical collaborator and lead guitarist Felicia Collins to join him onstage.

Fortunately or unfortunate to savvy music lovers, Shaffer chose “Nassau Gone Funky.”

Patrons might have surmised that perhaps, Shaffer’s choice of Caribbean territories were limited to the twin islands conspicuously lauded throughout the gala because of its member status with South South and the fact A&B national Dr. John Ashe, lobbied relentlessly for the original Millennium Development Goals.

Ashe was president of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly when the MDG were adopted by a global group.

As chairman of the South South Steering Committee for Sustainable Development he endorsed Shaffer’s preference of places to vacation despite the musician’s choice to play the infectious party song lauding one of the Bahamas islands.

In addition to Shaffer’s musical foray, A&B also represented when Ashe and his Prime Minister Gaston Browne toasted the availability of 365 beaches to visitors and nationals on any given day pointing to the uniquely distinct attraction of abundance of beautiful sand and surf.

PM Browne described the A&B islands as “an investment paradise” where anyone can “retire or become a citizen.”

Gov. General Sir Rodney Williams and his wife beamed as the two ambassadors boasted the unique attributes of the eastern Caribbean destination.

Catch You On The Inside!

A mural depicting reggae music icon Bob Marley, right, and former Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie decorate a wall in the yard of Marley’s Kingston home, in Jamaica, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. The reggae icon died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.
Associated Press / David McFadden

More from Around NYC