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Iconic Saint Lucia-born filmmaker Franklyn St. Juste dies

By Kimberley Small

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Franklyn ‘Chappie’ St Juste

Franklyn ‘Chappie’ St. Juste was a Saint Lucian who lived for many years in Jamaica and became a legend in the film industry there. Many Saint Lucian media persons studied with St. Juste at Carimac, UWI — John R. Lee 

(JAMAICA GLEANER) — Hailed as a colossus of Caribbean filmmaking who revolutionised the industry, Franklyn ‘Chappie’ St Juste passed away on Tuesday, November 5, the last take of a career that set high standards and scaled new heights.

St Juste died at the University Hospital of the West Indies of complications from cancer. He was 89.

Though he was never a student of St Juste’s, film director Storm Saulter counts the cinematographer as a friend and colleague.

“He advised my fellow filmmakers and I when we were making New Caribbean Cinema films. He was an inspiration and mentor to the entire film community,” he told The Gleaner.

Saulter then lauded what may be the resting filmmaker’s most famous credit.

“As the director of photography on The Harder They Come (directed and produced by Perry Henzell), his amazing creativity was key to creating one of the greatest films ever made in the history of cinema,” he said.

Earlier this year, Justine Henzell conducted the last interview she would do with Chappie, where he shared the ‘anatomy’ of three iconic scenes from her father Perry’s film, with insight into how he framed those narratives without a script – and actually directed some scenes.

“Chappie had great stories of the early days of Jamaican film and television, as he was one of those who laid the foundation for all who have come after. I even learnt things about my father Perry Henzell and the trials of filming The Harder They Come. … He was beyond generous with his knowledge and you didn’t have to be an official student of his to be schooled by him,” Henzell told The Gleaner.

Lennie Little-White, famed for sustaining local fictive television for decades with Royal Palm Estate, names Chappie as his mentor.

“When I came back to Jamaica from graduate school raring to go, Chappie sat me down and taught me the difference between academia and the real world of filmmaking,” Little-White shared. Numerous collaborations on documentaries and commercials culminated in the production of Little-White’s first feature film, Children of Babylon, for which Chappie was director of photography.

He echoed Justine Henzell’s reverence for the giant shadow he cast over the industry.

“Few filmmakers like Chappie have left indelible milestones in Jamaica’s motion picture history that have become the cornerstone of their own legacy. Chappie was not only a brilliant cinematographer, but a tireless teacher who has left a well-trained army of filmmakers to carry the industry forward,” added St Juste

Minister of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport Olivia Grange said that the ministry benefited first hand from St Juste’s technical skills, and critical analysis of issues, especially at the Creative Production and Training Centre where he served as a member of the board of management since 2016.

At the time of his passing, he had been leading a process to repatriate Jamaican films that have been found in databases overseas.

In addition to his sons Brian and François, daughter Maya and other family, friends and colleagues, St Juste leaves behind generations of students and mentees.

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