THE Jamaican film community has lost one of its pioneers. Cinematographer Franklyn “Chappie” St Juste, whose credits include iconic movies like The Harder They Come and Children of Babylon, as well as The Cool Boys and Coolie Pink and Green, died in a Kingston hospital yesterday after a long illness.

For film-maker Lennie Little-White, who worked with St Juste for many years, the superlatives flowed as he described his long-time collaborator and friend.

“Chappie was not only the most brilliant cinematographer I have ever worked with, but he was also a mentor and teacher to me and many others, not only here in Jamaica, but across the Caribbean. He took so many young people under his wing and taught them the rudiments of film. Children of Babylon was our greatest project together for which he is credited as director of photography, but he was so much more. He really guided me with things like creative set-up and how to get the best out of everyone on the set,” Little-White told the Jamaica Observer.

St Juste’s work with young people was enhanced during his stint at The University of the West Indies’ Mona campus, where for more than 20 years, he was a lecturer in television production at what became the Caribbean School of Media and Communications (CARIMAC).

Tonight, tribute will be paid to St Juste at a special screening of Perry Henzell’s second film, No Place Like Home, which was produced in the 1970s and has now been restored. The event is set for 10A West Kings House Road, Henzell’s former residence, where he conceptualised The Harder They Come.

Henzell’s daughter Justine, who is spearheading the project, expressed sadness at the passing of the Trinidad-born St Juste, a naturalised Jamaican. She remembers him as a constant in her life.

“Chappie worked with my father on The Harder They Come. So I really don’t know myself without Chappie as part of our film family. So this news comes as a shocker. I knew he was ill and spoke to Brian (St Juste’s son) a few days ago, but you are still never prepared when the news comes. But I have always had him in my life and as I grew older and became involved in film myself, he was always there, always so gracious with his expertise and encouragement. Personally, I found him to be a great storyteller, not just on film but in person as well. He had an incredible memory and could recall incidents from decades ago. Couple that with his wit, and he could paint great pictures in your mind,” she recalled. Franklyn “Chappie” St Juste is survived by children Brian, Francois, and Maya.

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