Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is no stranger to South Florida. Both musician and journalist, he's made an impact on this and many local publications. With a recent focus shift turning to filmmaking, Jeffers' first official production, Papa Machete has been picking up momentum and earning accolades from film circles.
"You and I have talked in the past about my machete obsession. I've always mythologized it in my own mind as the Excalibur of the third world, a symbol of determination and self-fortification yet to be fully realized. Back home in Barbados, we call it a cutlass or a 'collins' -- it's practically the pocketknife of the Caribbean," Jeffers told us in an interview back in August when the short film was picked for the Toronto International Film Festival's inaugural section of short works.
The short film concentrates on the life of aging Jacmel farmer Alfred Avril and his status as the last master of tire machét, a martial art combining African stick fighting and European-styled sword parrying.
The art form, created by slaves when combating Napoleon's armies, is a poetic extension of the slave revolt. Slaved utilized a tool of their enslavement as the weapon of freedom in the only successful slave revolt to take place in history. Working with Third Horizon Media and the Borscht Corporation, Papa Machete was directed by the Borscht's "Minister of Justice" Jonathan David Kane. The short is one of the two films chosen for Sundance.
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"I don't think it's quite sunk in yet that we're taking Papa Machete to Sundance. It was just a lofty dream when we were putting it together, and now it's real. It feels unreal though." The professor (Avril) passed away two weeks ago, and so the film is even more meaningful to us now," says Jeffers. "It's become even more of an honor to share his story with the world."
This screening of the film will be hosted by director Kane and Third Horizon Media and will be followed by a class on Haitian machete fencing taught by Michael Dylan Rogers, one of the subjects of the film. There will also be a traditional Haitian lunch following the presentation.
Papa Machete at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 19 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 21 NE 59 Terrace, Miami. Screening and presentation free with the purchase of a Borscht 9 ticket or a $5 suggested donation. Call 305-960-2969 or visit littlehaiticulturalcenter.com.