Ras Tingle, Jamaican Storyteller Image

by Tanaka Tiki Roberts

Michael Tingling, more popularly known as Ras Tingle of New Caribbean Cinema talks about the importance of cultural retention and how NCC's films such as 'Parish Bull' help to preserve our Caribbean identity.

Ras Tingle first became exposed to the world of film though the tutelage of renowned Jamaican director Ras Kassa. Over the years he has worked his way up from grip to directing, developing quite a reputation for himself through his prolific work with music videos. Now Tingling is broadening his horizon and delving even deeper into the world of film. As a member of New Caribbean Cinema, he has directed his very first short film- 'Parish Bull'.

The inspiration for the film came from old time myths surrounding the famous Kendal Crash that occurred in Jamaica in 1957. The train crash which left hundreds dead became the centre of supernatural stories of deceased victims being seen in the market place, along the train tracks and even "dead" females engaging in intimate relationships with oblivious men. Tingle relayed that "a couple years forward I was working  at this refrigerator  company- Carriers and one of the older technicians, he was retired at the time,- Daddy Fisher, he always said we must be careful of who we take up in our vehicles and he relate the story to me about the technician who picked up a girl, had sex with her and went back to see her and the mother came out and told him that its her daughter and she has been dead for awhile." 'Parish Bull' tells a similar tale.

As a Jamaican, Tingle thought it his duty to tell indigenous stories especially since he believes some aspects of our culture are being watered down or completely disregarded to be replaced with borrowed ideas from abroad. He explained that "The stories that you would hear as a child that would make you be aware [about our history] or make you want to laugh, those stories are not told anymore because the family unit is broken down and when the family unit is broken down a lot of the historic moments are passed because the elderly does not get to pass on a lot to the new generation coming so in preservation of that, that's really my aim- to preserve Jamaican stories and Jamaican lifestyle."

He spoke also of Jamaica being more than just a tourist destination as the little island's hidden jewels are perfect "back drops". He believes that we need to see the financial potential of the film industry in Jamaica so that eventually the island can be established as the film capital of the region. The director spoke strongly about his craft and the importance of the formation New Caribbean Cinema saying "It's not just some man a tek up a camera and go round deh so and then them shoot and go sit down inna one place and edit. It is our passion and we're trying to raise this industry from the ground up and we're not getting any assistance, what are we going to do? Are we suppose to step out and do something drastic about it; well we took the next route. We are using it as a teaching medium to make sure that who ever observe us will see carefully how you construct yourself as a film maker in the Diaspora."

He stressed that today film makers who are really dedicated and serious do not have to wait on hand outs from anyone which is something proven by the efforts of New Caribbean Cinema. As a collective, members of New Caribbean Cinema have created their first series 'Ring Di Alarm' which is a compilation of 7 short films. Tingle commented on this saying, "So right now we are making sure that the younger generation sees it clearly that you all can get together in one unit, you all work on each others film and put them together in a collection and put it out there in the world. That's the main intent right now and we are going to make sure that this becomes a hallmark for the Caribbean film markers who are coming in the next generation who have the heart and want to do it; this is the medium through which we are teaching them that they can do it."

Ring Di Alarm premieres on Sunday, September 2nd at the British Film Institute SouthBank theatre in London.

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