Well-read moviegoers will appreciate the references to classic Shakespearean characters Romeo and Juliet and the fair maiden Ophelia as they take in the warm and fuzzy, yet heart wrenching story of Omari and Naomi in the recently released film Heart of Summer.
Indeed, the story of forbidden love is a universal one. However, Jamaican-born Director Adrian Allen puts a new twist on it, incorporating modern urban life, Caribbean sensibilities, and religious issues that build to a compelling crescendo.
Understandably, some moviegoers come to independent films expecting to see amateur footage, shaky camerawork, and incomplete stories. This is not one of those times. A striking feature of this film is its clarity and professional finish. The filmmaker and his production team created a piece of work worthy to be entered into any major film festival.
Heart of Summer premiered at Broward county’s Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center as part of the South Florida Film Festival that showcases the work of up and coming maverick filmmakers, artists, musicians.
Written by Tedrick Huff and Mark Bridge, this indie film was shot in South Florida utilizing the talents of local actors, many yet to be recognized. Internationally renowned Jamaican actor Paul Campbell stepped out of his past rough and tough roles to portray a pious overprotective father. So natural is his portrayal there is not hint of his past bad boy image.
Like the Shakespearean lovers, the lovestruck couple, played by Tesh Beckham (Naomi) and Lex Kelly-Meade (Omari), exude the innocence of young love battling to break through the disapproval of a stern parent, a single parent no less.
Viewers have no clue why Campbell’s character is single, but through flashbacks discover the truth, a truth that evokes Ophelia’s image and hints at an event that will change the lives of all the characters in the film.
The second generation Caribbean-American couple come of age and find a comfortable place within the complex family structure and values that characterize many dual culture families. Audiences will easily relate to their push-pull dilemma as the star-crossed lovers try to balance the need to respect parental authority and discipline with the desire to fulfill the passion rising within.
Interestingly, the multicultural nature of the Caribbean is carried throughout the film in several ways — by the choice of music, the artwork displayed in the households, the rhythmic American and Jamaican cadence, and the mix of races representing one family. These elements tend to unify, bringing cohesiveness to varying themes in the film.
But, this is a movie and all can’t be straight lines, something has to give. The lessons are evident; there are ripple effects in everything we do in life. Choices are made, but be prepared for the consequences. The film delivers what could be a harsh lesson for some, but puts into perspective the reality that we call life. So be prepared to shed a few tears!
The challenge now is wider distribution. Too often independent, low-budget films die a natural death before they reach larger audiences because of lack of resources and funding. It would be a shame if this one does not make it, for it has so much to tell in a language we can all identify with — love, innocence, family, broken yet mendable hearts.
About the Author
Dawn A. Davis is an independent journalist. She focuses on the Caribbean and covers a broad range of topics and issues. From tourism to healthcare the arts and politics, Davis travels across the region to get to the heart of the story.