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Jamaican ‘King’ ready for prime-time premiere

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A document chronicling the life of Jamaican intellectual, dancer and choreographer Ralston Milton Nettleford is set to premiere in February. The film about the dancer and social critic popularly known as Rex will debut at the start of Black History Month and simultaneous to the anniversary of his untimely death on the eve of his 77th birthday.

Directed by Lennie Little-White, “Long Live The King!” chronicles the life and work of the academic who died in Washington D.C on Feb. 2, 2010.

“We managed to create a balance that looks at his humble beginnings in Trelawny; his academic prowess and his pinnacle in the dance,” Lennie Little-White said.

“Despite all his accolades in academia, the arts and governance — at home and abroad, Professor Nettleford took pride in being an ordinary man. We believe we have captured that essence in the film,” he added.

Included in the documentary are interviews with three, former Jamaican prime ministers -- Edward Seaga, P J Patterson and Bruce Golding.

Saint Lucian poet and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Jamaican reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, Barbadian historian Sir Hillary Beckles and Mia Mottley, Barbadian Member of Parliament also opine on the Caribbean achiever.

Little-White said while the distinguished spokespersons represent a few luminaries that feature prominently in the film about the legendary individual, he said more than any other’s commentary, Nettleford own spoken words present the most compelling reflection of the “king” of arts in Jamaica.

According to Little-White, in the film he weaves “a patchwork quilt of many interviews done in the last quarter of his life” to create “an incredible insight into what made the man who will be forever revered around the world for his intellect and his role in the arts.”

Archival footage will focus on his life as a co-founder of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), dancer and choreographer.

Also included are photographic contributions from photographer, Monica La Yacona who has documented the work of the NDTC since it started half a century ago.

A rural photographic essay by Dr. Owen Minott also illustrates Rex’s youthful years. Born in rural Jamaica he established himself as a Jamaican icon and Caribbean legend.

The story is narrated by Adrian Atkinson and Prof. Edward Baugh.

Reportedly, multiple screenings will be held in various cities throughout the world to premiere the milestone film.

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