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'Out of Many, One People' docuseries in production

Published:Thursday | January 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Documentarian Fitzroy Smith.

British film documentarian Fritzroy Smith is back at it - and is currently in the midst of producing the second in a string of series inspired by Jamaica's motto, 'Out of Many, One People'. Now, he is extrapolating the history of Jews in Jamaica.

In January 2017, the film-maker successfully premiered a documentary focused on Chinese history in Jamaica called Bonds of Promised Land at Carib Cinema.

Interviews for the documentary have been completed. "Now, we're chopping it up and putting it together. We're hoping to premiere towards the end of March," Smith told The Gleaner.

Currently untitled, Smith guarantees that the film will be educational, exploring how the Jewish community helped shape the current Jamaican landscape - a topographic from 1492, and their arrival with Christopher Columbus.

"Jews have a rich history in Jamaica dating back to migrants from Portugal and Spain, known then as the Iberian Peninsula. The Jews have contributed economically and socially to our culture, and they were the first to come here," Smith said. To complete this Jewish-history film, Smith worked alongside writers Michael Edwards and Shauna Brandon.

Following the film's premiere, Smith will dive right back into production as he intends to cover all groups honoured by our motto. "We have so many races that make Jamaica what it is today. I'm going to do the Indians, the Syrians, and the Lebanese. Out of many, we are one people." But he didn't mention documenting the Africans.

"There is talk about it, but so many people have done things about slavery. Maybe I'll try to really find out where the majority of them came from, or the Tainos, and where they came from," he mused.

Though he was born in the UK, Smith maintains a strong connection to his Jamaican roots. As a youngster, he frequently visited his grandparents on the island and now travels back and forth - staying in the tropics for filming.

Smith started producing documentaries in early 2011, and he said that one of his first documentaries uncovered a little-known truth - that many of the homeless in Jamaica were deportees, primarily from the UK, the United States, the Cayman Islands, and Barbados.