By Jordan Gardner
In short film Paradise Island, filmmaker Kathleen Jayme travels to Boracay to unravel the stories of the island behind the explosion of tourism. She focuses her storytelling on the local children, who spend their time making sandcastles for money, to intimately convey life in the tourist hub of the Philippines. Jayme works as a Production Coordinator at the National Film Board of Canada, and serves on the Executive team of a non-profit organization, Surfrider, to protect the world’s oceans and beaches.
Paradise Island was featured at the Canne’s 2015 Short Film Corner.
JG: Where did the idea/inspiration for this film come from?
KJ: The first time I saw the children of Boracay making sandcastles, I knew I wanted to make a film about them. I wanted to know who they were and how tourists like myself were affecting their lives. They stole my heart from the very start.
JG: Was there any one moment that really stood out to you while making this film? What was it?
KJ: My cinematographer, Mackenzie, and I spent three weeks in Boracay and we shared so many great memories with the kids. I think one of my favorite parts during the shoot was when we'd put the cameras away in the evening and we'd all play soccer on the beach.
JG: What's something you learned making Paradise Island that you didn't know before?
KJ: I initially made this film because I was angry with what was going on on the island (and realized that I, as a tourist, was part of the problem).
However, when I began shooting and interviewing locals, I learnt how complex the situation really was. The tourism industry was not wholly problematic—because of it the locals of the island were able to feed their families and send their children to school. After coming to this realization, I knew I had to convey this complex situation to my audience.
It is my hope that Paradise Island captures the complexities of the situation while connecting tourists to the issues faced by its residents. Paradise Island showcases the beauty and destruction of Boracay, but more importantly, the hearts of the island’s children whom we often forget. It is this group of children that gives us a reason to respect the land and to do our part to protect Paradise Island.
JG: What films have been the most inspiring to you personally, and why?
KJ: One of my favorite documentaries has to be Blackfish because of the movement that it started. I believe that documentaries are a powerful medium that can reach the masses to affect change and Blackfish is a documentary I believe achieved this.
Jordan Gardner is a sophomore at Yale University studying Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. He’s from Colorado, where he enjoys the beautiful outdoors fueling his passion for the environment.