Sat | Jun 15, 2019

Lennie Little-White producing Portia documentary

Published:Thursday | November 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Lennie Little-White (centre) with former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as she is serenaded by Richie Stephens.
Lennie Little-White with Entertainment Minister Oliva ‘Babsy’ Grange for his new documentary.
Lennie Little-White shares a laugh with Pam Hall during production of a documentary on Portia Simpson Miller.
Elaine Wint (centre) having final touches done by make-up artist Carol Reid (left) and Natasha Lue, production assistant.

Lennie Little-White's next masterpiece may not be a long-running series with hundreds of episodes aired across the Caribbean, but it will stand the test of time as part of Jamaica's audiovisual historical archives. The veteran film-maker recently began production of a documentary about the nation's first female prime minister - Portia Simpson Miller.

"She's our new Nanny!" the director exclaimed during a recent interview with The Gleaner. Like the black American film-makers have contributed to a wealth of films about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael, Little-White wants to stay within that heroic framing with Simpson Miller. He said that they are working to have the film ready to premiere in Black History Month (February) 2019.

"The documentary touches on different people whom she has had an impact on. It's about her role and legacy, and her own perspective on what has made her the person she is how she managed to beat the boys," Little-White said.


Same Old


By his observation, local broadcasters revisit the same documentaries each year and he hopes this addition will add some variety to the line-up. "They always show documentaries of Rex Nettleford or Barry Watson, films about Jamaicans at home. I figure this film will draw attention, not just to the screens but to the lady herself. It's just symbolic," Little-White added.

The director intends for the documentary to serve as a reflection of Simpson Miller's life, in her words and the words of others. Among the featured personalities are former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Damion Crawford, Sir Hilary Beckles, and the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. "Her (Mottley) part is going to touch people's hearts. She brings the Caribbean perspective," the director prophesied.


More Than Talking Heads


For this new project, Little-White is trying out a new technique. "It's going to be little more than just talking heads. One thing we've never done before the film is going to speak through music. We're going to use the lyrics of several songs to help tell her story," he explained.

Among the contributing musicians are Shaggy, Tarrus Riley, Pam Hall, Peter Lloyd, Richie Stephens and Jimmy Cliff. He added, "Some will physically appear, others, you will just hear the music. It's still a documentary, but music will play a major role."

Shooting for the upcoming documentary will continue into mid-December.