Residents may remember the story in the Cayman Compass about the premiere of ‘The Great Disconnect’ in October 2019.
The documentary started as a local project about a global issue: social isolation and community wellbeing. As relevant as it was when it first launched last year, it is particularly timely now as the world reels from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Camana Bay Cinema has therefore chosen to screen it for one week, starting on Friday, with multiple viewings per day. This will be the first locally-made film to get a full commercial run there.
“We are very excited to have [‘The Great Disconnect’] as part of our upcoming movie slate,” said Corey Randolph, manager of the Camana Bay Cinema.
For those who missed it the first time around, this is an opportunity to see it as it should be viewed – in a professional theatre. Those who made it to the premiere in October can return for a second viewing and spread the word to others.
You may recognise health and wellness professional Tamer Soliman from his documentary ‘Bright Spot’, which was released in 2015. That film focussed on the benefits of the coconut and its link to the Cayman Islands’ history and culture.
He returns in ‘The Great Disconnect’ as the director, producer and co-writer, trying to get to the bottom of why social isolation is so much more of a problem in the 21st century, even though people are connecting more than ever through social media.
Below is an excerpt of an interview with Soliman last year, when he talked about how the concept came about and what he learned along the way.
You say this all started in the mountains of Jamaica?
Yes. Before making this film, I had been aware of the concept of community wellbeing, but I never really thought too much about it, and I definitely didn’t think it was a key factor in achieving optimal health. Working as a health and wellness professional for over a decade, I advised my clients that health was defined by two things: what we ate and how much we exercised. But all of that changed after a trip to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. Rob Tyler, my good friend and director of photography, and I stayed a few nights in a small mountain camp, outfitted with just the basics for simple village life. There was just an amazing sense of community there.
Obviously, technology, smartphones and tablets have contributed to the era of social isolation. What do you feel is the solution to keeping usage in check?
What we learned from our interviewees Dr. Tara Gruenewald and Sherry Turkle is simply that people need to engage in more activities that don’t involve screens. [Setting] boundaries in the household, like no gadgets at the dinner table, in the bedroom, while driving, etc., is very valuable [for] keeping us in check. If you’re a parent, you need to model the behaviour you want to teach your child – meaning that we all need to become more reflective of our own screen usage in order to create change around us.
What did you learn about isolation affecting wellbeing?
[When] I met with experts in economic, social and urban design, I discovered how multifaceted this idea of community wellbeing is, and the ill effects that happen as a result of community breakdown. These issues not only impact personal health and wellbeing but the health and wellbeing of communities on a much larger scale. Loneliness and social isolation are being labelled as epidemics – epidemics that may become one of society’s biggest challenges of the 21st century.
Jeremy Walton, co-producer, executive producer and photographer, was excited to see the film on the cinema’s schedule.
“I think there’s a story of wider interest here,” Walton said. “As you know, the global shutdown has created a shortage of original content for cinemas around the world, so I saw this as an opportunity to do a deal with a cinema that wouldn’t normally be feasible. Plus, the message of our film has never been more timely, as people contemplate starting afresh and make decisions about how they would like their communities to be in the future.”
| For more information about ‘The Great Disconnect’, visit www.disconnecteddoc.com. The screening schedule for the documentary at the Camana Bay Cinema is found at www.fandango.com/the-great-disconnect-2020-223207/movie-overview.