MIAMI BEACH — Fernando Garcia-Guereta knew something “big” was going to happen at last summer’s Beijing Olympics.
He first met the world’s fastest man when Usain Bolt was 14 years old. He had witnessed the lanky teenager win a junior gold medal, then go on to beat seasoned veterans three years later.
Garcia-Guereta followed his gut to China that summer, and set out to capture the reactions and emotions of his adopted country – Jamaica – as it witnessed history.
“This is the first movie I ever made. We had no money, just ideas,” Garcia-Guereta said.
The resulting film is nominated in the best documentary category at this year’s American Black Film Festival. The 61-minute film will be shown on June 26 and 27 as part of the festival.
Garcia-Guereta produced the movie with the help of friends from his days in the Spanish television industry. The fledgling film maker moved to Jamaica 19 years ago.
“This is not a Spanish movie. This is purely an organic Jamaican production,” Garcia-Guereta said.
An avid track fan, he said the best track athletes in Jamaica are still relatively unknown teens.
The documentary contains interviews with these athletes and gold-medal winners like Bolt. Bolt holds the Olympic and world records for 100 meters at 9.69 seconds, the 200 meters at 19.30 seconds and, along with his teammates, the 4×100 meter relay at 37.10 seconds, all set at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Other athletes interviewed in the documentary include Shelly-Ann Fraser, the 100-meter women’s 2008 Olympic champion, who finished in 10.78 seconds.
The documentary also includes reactions from fans. Garcia-Guereta said he aims to let the athletes speak for themselves.
As for the answer to the question posed in the title of the film? The producer says there are several opinions.
“Some say it’s because the athletes come from country areas where you eat good food and have to run barefoot,’’ he said. “But it has more to do with the competitive culture in the schools.’’
He added: “Track is a natural sport. You don’t need any equipment to do it. You bring yourself only to the sport.”
THE MORE YOU KNOW
The 13th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is the leading festival in the world for African-American and urban content. It culminates with the ABFF Awards presentation on June 27 inside the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.
Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast? will be shown on June 26 at 12:40 p.m. at the Colony Theater, and June 27 at 10:30 a.m. at Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Espanola Way, Miami Beach.
Tickets are $12. They are available at Ticketmaster and the theater box offices. Florida residents will receive a 25-percent discount when they present proof of residency.