Jamaican Maroons: New world’s first freedom fighters

An exclusive preview screening of “Akwantu: the Journey” will be held at the Poet’s Den Theater, located at 309 E. 108th Street, New York, NY 10019 on Sunday, May 27 at 5:00 p.m.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A session with the writer/director/producer and narrator Jamaican Roy T. Anderson, and a wine & cheese reception afterwards. This occasion will also serve as a kick-off celebration for the upcoming world premiere of this groundbreaking documentary in Jamaica.

Shot in Jamaica, Ghana, Canada and the United States over the course of three years, the film feature interviews with world renowned scholars, African nationals, Maroon officials and present-day Jamaican citizens (both Maroon and non-Maroon), while simultaneously capturing Roy’s personal journey of self-discovery from Maroon society to the North American continent.

With this 87-minute feature documentary, Anderson invites you to join him on a journey into the lives of a people whose enduring spirit of self determination is as much alive today as it was more than 300 years ago.

The maroons were considered the “Spartacus” of their time; except these enslaved Africans were victorious in their fight for freedom. This fact is not lost on New Jersey-based filmmaker and stuntman Anderson.

After years of research and many interviews that took him from remote regions of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains to the coastal environs of Ghana and its interior, then finally to the mysterious and isolated community of Accompong, St. Elizabeth, he has conceived “Akwantu: the Journey.”

“Akwantu: the Journey” documents the struggles for freedom of the Jamaican Maroons, rebel slaves of West African origin who defeated the mighty British army and formed independent communities in the rugged and remote regions of Jamaica in the early-mid 18th century.

The descendants of these communities still maintain their proud heritage today. Yet so little is known about the Maroons whose very rich culture and heritage is threatened to now become a thing of the past. “That would be a tragedy,” says Anderson, a proud descendant of the Leeward Maroons. “They were after all the New World’s first successful freedom fighters.”

“Akwantu: the Journey” explores a significant area of Jamaican culture that has long fascinated observers. In fact, UNESCO recognized the international significance of Maroon heritage in 2003 by naming the musical heritage of the Moore Town Maroons one of the Masterpieces of Intangible History.

The Jamaican Ministry of Youth and Culture commended “Akwantu: the Journey” as welcomed addition to its cinematic landscape, having designated the film as a JAMAICA 50 endorsed event – activities that will celebrate the Caribbean island’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.

Planned JAMAICA 50 events include a press and industry screening on Wednesday, June 20 in Kingston, the nation’s capital; to be followed by the world premiere of the film on Friday, June 22 in the Maroon community of Charles Town, Portland during its 4th Annual Maroon Conference.

For more than 25 years Roy has performed stunts for such Hollywood stars as Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx. In his illustrious career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator he has accumulated more than 400 production credits, appearing in blockbuster movies like “Men in Black III,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Spiderman 2,” “Bourne Ultimatum,” “Hitch,” “American Gangster,” and top-rated TV shows; “Law & Order,” “The Sopranos,” and “Boardwalk Empire.” He’s an award winning stuntman, and a world record holder.

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