‘Queen Nanny’ premieres on American TV
Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, a film by Jamaica-born Hollywood stuntman/filmmaker Roy T. Anderson, will be airing on American TV for the first time on Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m. EDT on The African Channel (TAC).
This landmark one-hour documentary, co-created with another Jamaican, Harcourt Fuller, unearths and examines the legendary and mythical figure that is Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Jamaica’s only national heroine.
Since its Jamaica premiere on Friday, October 23, 2015, at the Sir Kenneth Standard Lecture Theatre in the new Basic Medical Sciences Building at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Queen Nanny has been screened at many notable venues in the USA, Canada, the UK, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, St Lucia, Belize, Brazil, Trinidad, Martinique, Reunion Island, Charles Town and Moore Town in Jamaica, and several African countries.
The film documents the struggle for freedom of the Jamaican Maroons, led by the indomitable Grandy Nanny, portrayed by paramount Maroon chief, Jamaica’s own Gloria ‘Mama G’ Simms. A spiritual leader, skilled in the use of herbs and guerilla warfare tactics, from her mountain stronghold at the source of the Stony River in the Blue Mountains, Nanny directed the warfare that effectively neutralised the vaunted British firepower. Her intriguing story is told through songs, performances, art, poetry, and a series of re-enactments.
Anderson’s second documentary also features interviews with scholars who are experts on Caribbean history, slavery, colonialism, and resistance while exploring the role of Maroon and non-Maroon women in Jamaican history and society today. Maroon women and women from the wider Jamaica society, too, talk about Nanny’s influence and legacy. Such speakers include Professor Verene Shepherd, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Rita Marley, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Portia Simpson Miller, US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and Una Clarke, former New York City councilwoman.
Shot in Jamaica, Ghana, The United Kingdom, The United States, and elsewhere, over the course of two years, this documentary also serves as a prelude to the dramatic telling of the epic story of this larger-than-life legend. One of the highlights of the film is the documentation of a three-day trek to the rugged hills of Old Nanny Town in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.
A promotional clip from TAC says, “TAC celebrates the start of Caribbean Heritage Month, introducing one of the least recognised heroines in history whose story unfolds in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.”
TAC is “a linear television network that aims to demystify modern Africa for viewers in the Americas” and is available via pay TV distributors across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. It entertains and informs audiences with original series, movies, documentaries, and specials, as well as current affairs, soap operas, and cultural programming. So what was the process like to get ‘Queen Nanny’ on The Africa Channel?
“My producing partner, Stephen Young-Chin, was the one that made the introduction to the folks at The Africa Channel. They had a look at both ‘Queen Nanny’ and Akwantu (Anderson’s first film), and they were interested right away. We were then able to reach an amicable agreement,” Anderson told T he Gleaner.
He also said: “Everybody in Jamaica knows of the heroics of Nanny of the Maroons. Outside of Jamaica, she remains a mystery, even though (I believe) she ranks above Black American icons Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Some people will be really surprised come June 3rd.”
And now that it is scheduled to be screened to a diverse audience, what are the emotions for Anderson?
“You know it’s gratifying to have my work available to a much wider audience than just in educational and community settings. The work doesn’t stop here. I have some interest in my Garvey documentary, nothing signed yet. But I’m excited to share that I am developing a scripted television series. Stay tuned for that,” he proffered.