Jamaican/Canadian filmmaker, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall debuted her latest feature Jamaican film, When Morning Comes at this year’s staging of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The movie is told from the perspective of Jamal (Djamari Roberts), a young boy who lives in Jamaica. He was recently suspended from school and his mother Neesha (Shaquana Wilson) fears that he will continue on this path, so she makes the decision to send her rambunctious son to live with her mother in Canada.
However, Jamal isn’t happy about this upcoming change and leaves home, staying with his friend Deshane (Jarden Crooks) and he starts sharing his feelings about the upcoming move with people in his town, including the girl he has a crush on, father figures and other locals.
Story plot thickens
“It’s kind of based off of the memories I’ve had in Jamaica while growing up,” Fyffe-Marshall told Yahoo Canada. According to her, “my immigration story, from England to Canada, I was that age, and so a
lot of the internal feelings of the character are based on how I was feeling….When I was younger, kids were more children, and so that was important for me, to show this real innocence, especially where he
grows up. It’s in the country, not having access to electronics, and the time period is 2001, so really speaking to what that innocence looks like from a childlike perspective.”
Shooting in Jamaica, Fyffe-Marshall really captures the essence of the country, which she highlights is done, in part, by using the natural light on location. The filmmaker also strategically shot the film like
the camera isn’t in the room — it feels like you’re just part of the scene, Yahoo Canada reported.
“It was important to show Jamaica outside of the stereotypes, the Jamaica that I knew growing up… Jamaicans, who watch TV, we always see really bad accents and the Jamaicans are portrayed sometimes very stereotypically, so it was important for me to make a film that showed to me what was the most authentic Jamaica,” Fyffe-Marshall said.
Interesting twist in the film
Another interesting aspect of the story, Yahoo Canada mentions is the way that Fyffe-Marshall expands authentic portrayals of mothers, specifically by showing Neesha apologising to her son. There is one
moment in particular where Jamal gets hurt, that’s followed by his mother’s apology, followed by her sharing with Jamal that his father wanted them to see Canada.
“We rarely see mothers apologize on television and on movies, and so for me, it was super important that that moment is an apology that a lot of us as children never got, because our parents weren’t equipped
to have those conversations and to apologize,” Fyffe-Marshall said.
While Toronto, in particular, has a reputation for being a city that’s home to a lot of immigrant families, Fyffe-Marshall made the point that much of the focus is usually on what immigrants’ experience when
they arrive, and less so on what they left behind.
Continuing, the Jamaican/Canadian filmmaker argued, “we feel like Canada is this utopia, but I think it’s important to talk about the very specific moments before, where you’re leaving behind all you’ve
ever known. For me, this was kind of my love letter to sacrifice, to the things that we all do and miss out on for what we think will be a better life, and have better opportunities.”