Chris Flanagan is an installation artist and documentary filmmaker. His documentary films Shella Record - A Reggae Mystery and Ruff and Tuff - Stranger Cole's Toronto Roots premiered at Hot Docs in 2019 and 2018 respectively. He is currently developing a series of documentary shorts with collaborator Graeme Mathieson for the National Film Board of Canada.
As an artist he has exhibited in numerous artist-run and public galleries across Canada and Australia for more than 15 years. His art practice has also included composing original including a fabricated band and a film score for a small town. His compositions featured in Hannah Gadsby’s Oz a three part series on Australian Art.
Chris is also a DJ, record collector, and runs Shella Records, a record label dedicated to reissuing incredible lost Canadian Reggae music in partnership with the original artists.
Herbie Miller is a Jamaican musicologist, social analyst, song-writer, music producer and cultural historian. As Director and Curator of the Jamaica Music Museum in Kingston, Jamaica he has dedicated much of his life to preserving and archiving Jamaica’s rich musical history. Herbie Miller managed Reggae icon Peter Tosh at the height of his career until his death.
Matthew Bate is a multi-award winning writer, director and producer. His 2011 feature Shut Up Little Man! premiered at the Sundance Film festival before screening theatrically across the U.S and being picked up by Netflix. His follow up feature Sam Klemke’s Time Machine premiered at the 2015 Sundance New Frontiers Program and won the Doc Aviv Artistic Spirit Award. Matthew has created television series and one-off films for SBS, ABC, Al Jazeera and The New York Times. In 2013 Mathew wrote and directed the hybrid film I Want to Dance Better At Parties which won the 2013 Dendy Award, and that same year was the recipient of the David and Joan Williams Fellowship. Matthew’s Virtual Reality work has seen him collaborate with the Sydney Dance Company on ACMI’s first ever VR commission, and more recently the VR artwork ‘Summation of Force’, with Magnum Photographer Trent Parke, was selected for Sundance’s New Frontiers and won the VR Award at the Imagine Film festival Amsterdam. Matthew has been nominated for two AACTA Awards and is an AWGIE Award winning screenwriter. Matthew is a founding director of Closer Productions.
Sonia Godding Togobo has close to 20 years of media experience as both an editor and director. Sonia has edited television programs for BBC, Channel 4 and ITV in the UK and for OWN, CBC, HGTV, SLICE and E! in North America. Along with Shella Record: A Reggae Mystery, Sonia recently edited the CBC documentary Mr. Jane and Finch.
Sonia directed the feature documentary Adopted ID that opened the Images of Black Women Film Festival at the British Film Institute and the Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia, screened at the Hollywood Black Film Festival and Caribbean Tales Film Festival in Toronto. Sonia also directed a second documentary short, Rosie Douglas : A Fearless Rebel. Sonia co-produced and directed a documentary web series and video installation In The Black Canada featured at the Art Gallery of Windsor.
Graeme Mathieson is a Toronto-based Director, DOP and Editor, having spent the last 15 years in the industry, filming across the globe and is the Creative Director at Q Media Solutions in Toronto. He also moonlights as DJ Gramera, hosting parties such as SoulSkank and Rebel Hop and spent 15 years at the helm of StolenSouls show on CHRY 105.5fm radio. He is currently developing a series of shorts on Toronto’s buried Reggae history in collaboration with Chris Flanagan and the National Film Board of Canada.
Andrew Alfred-Duggan is a Toronto based cartographer, artist and photographer. During his career as a professional map-maker, Andrew travelled to more than 65 countries over 15 years, and captured thousands of photographs of his travels. Andrew makes map-based art that has received awards and been featured in numerous publications including Spacing Magazine and the book uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto.
10 years ago, artist and vinyl fanatic Chris Flanagan unearthed a mysterious thrift store record that changed his whole life. Haunted by the voice of a woman listed only as 'Shella Record' he dropped everything and began a quest to find out who she was and what happened to her.
Beginning in Toronto's underground Reggae scene Chris hears only rumours and whispers until finally, after playing the song on local radio a mystery caller identifies her as 1960s Jamaican Jazz singer Sheila Rickards.
Despite warnings to drop the search, Chris embarks on a pilgrimage to Kingston Jamaica to try and find Sheila, hoping to get some clues from the Reggae godfather, producer Bunny 'Striker' Lee.
Chris follows rumours and red herrings across the island, exploring the city’s streets, burned down studios and sacred musical sites encountering legends of Reggae’s golden era. These musicians all remember the dynamic Sheila Rickards but no one has seen her since she recorded her only Reggae song and then vanished.
Chris returns to Toronto empty handed but is unable to let go of his obsession with the mystery diva. He soon travels to America following in her footsteps from New York to Los Angeles, enlisting the help of psychics, private investigators and ghost hunters in an increasingly desperate search.
SHELLA RECORD - A REGGAE MYSTERY is a meditation on the power of music and obsession, blurring fact and fiction through the use of Chris’ creative studio built models and surreal recreations.
Chris' art practice forms the whimsical aesthetic of the film with the incorporation of models and silhouette animations as scenes are recreated and scenarios re- imagined with actors playing Sheila Rickards and other incidental characters.
There is also a wealth of archival footage of Bunny Lee, the musicians who played on the song and Sheila herself. The soundtrack is an array of some of the deepest and most powerful Jamaican dub and Reggae from the archives of the great Bunny Lee and the late King Tubby.
Shella Record - A Reggae Mystery
Shella Record - A Reggae Mystery is a feature documentary by Chris Flanagan
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