“Spotlight Shorts JA” films to explore real stories of surviving gender-based violence

Coordinated by JAFTA and UNICEF under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative

16 November 2021
Absolute Power: A woman recounts the harrowing tale of how she managed to defeat her narcissistic and abusive lover and co-worker who terrorized her in her late 20s.

KINGSTON, 16 November 2021 – Four teams of Jamaican filmmakers and writers are bringing powerful real-life experiences of survivors of gender-based violence to the screen through the Spotlight Shorts JA project, which is coordinated by the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The film project is an activity under the Spotlight Initiative – a global effort to address gender-based violence led by the European Union and the United Nations. The films convey stories of four survivors of gender-based violence who want to share their experiences to help others.

“The goal of Spotlight Shorts JA is to use filmmaking to explore, challenge and raise awareness of harmful norms and practices which help drive violence against women and girls,” said Novia Condell, Health Specialist at UNICEF. “We want to shine a creative lens on this very problematic issue in Jamaica.”

The Spotlight Shorts JA films are Absolute Power led by Producer Julene Kenyon with Writer/Director Gemmar McFarlane; Kindle led by Producers/Directors Frank O’Neill and Stephanie Lyle with writer Nicanor Gordon; Boy, Girl and All the Rest led by Producer/Director Nadean Rawlins with writer Maylynne Lowe; and I Was Only Twelve led by Producer Ryan Campbell with Director David Johnson and writer Jhanielle Powell. 

The initiative’s open call was launched in July 2021. All applicants attended a sensitization session to learn more about the nature of gender-based violence in Jamaica, and the attitudes and behaviours that fuel this type of violence, before submitting treatments for consideration. The four selected projects were each awarded a grant of JMD one million dollars for production.

The teams and the survivors whose stories are being shared were provided with psychosocial support, as part of preparation for film production. Each team was also assigned a mentee – a young person from a vulnerable community who has an interest in filmmaking – to help build skills and share information about the film industry with youth.

“We at JAFTA are grateful to be able to partner with UNICEF Jamaica and the Spotlight Initiative to give Jamaican filmmakers the opportunity to produce four stirring short films that will bring attention to the issue of and the need to prevent the gender-based violence which plagues our society”, noted JAFTA President Saeed Thomas. “We are dedicated to building both community and industry, and the Spotlight Shorts JA initiative helps to create relevant content, use creativity for a cause, and facilitate mentorship and access to more youth for the filmmaking process.”

The four films will be screened nationally during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international initiative that begins on November 25. In 2022, the films will be screened in communities in Clarendon, Westmoreland, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew – where the Spotlight Initiative is implementing local activities to help prevent and mitigate the impact of gender-based violence.

Media contacts

Allison Brown-Knight
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Jamaica
Tel: 876-618-6268 (office)
Tel: 876-279-8339 (mobile)
Saeed Thomas


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Jamaica, visit www.unicef.org/jamaica.

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