Jamaica-based artist launches jazz-themed film based on own novel

Filmmaker Tyrel Hunt
Photo by Elias Williams

A new film based on a novel that is centered on a young jazz musician who reopens his late father’s old jazz club in Jamaica has been released on Amazon and is available for purchase. 

The Sound of SouthSide is a film made by Tyrel Hunt and was filmed over the course of two weeks in 2021, based on the novel that Hunt penned in 2020 with the same name. 

Hunt has worked full time at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning since March 2020 and he said that it was here that he found the inspiration for his novel and subsequently the film. 

“I became very inspired by the rich jazz history in the community, so The Sound of Southside was my attempt to merge this jazz history with the issues in the community that I see on a daily basis,” he said. 

He added that although the filming only took place over two weeks, the postproduction process took significantly more time. 

The Rosedale native who now resides in Jamaica, added that representing artists in southeast Queens was a driving force behind the creation of the film.

“It was very important to me to make this film and represent Queens this way because I feel like certain parts of Queens are very underrepresented and when you see Queens in films it’s usually the same parts like Jackson Heights, but southeast Queens you don’t really see and when you do, it can be shown in a stereotypical way so I wanted to shine a light on a different aspect of Queens which is the amazing jazz history,” Hunt said. 

The main character in the film is Maliki, played by James Ross, who meets a mysterious philanthropist in an attempt to reopen the jazz club. As part of the story, Maliki meets a woman called Afeni, an aspiring actress who lives in Jamaica and is also from Jamaica the country.

While Maliki begins to get caught up in a web of lies in his attempt to reopen the club, Afeni is struggling with homesickness and the pair grow closer. 

Afeni is played by Hunt’s wife Amanda Hunt who is a Jamaican immigrant herself. 

“I loved playing a Jamaican character and to bring an authentic Jamaican story to life and to use my own accent which you don’t tend to hear a lot in films was so important to me,” she said. 

Speaking about the inspiration behind the characters for the film, Hunt said that he based each character on a specific theme. 

“The Jazz musician was based on the rich musical history of Queens, the investor was based on gentrification in the community, and so on. I also pulled traits from real people whom I’ve met in the community,” he said.

Both the film and the book are available for purchase now from Amazon