If you are in Kingston, I am recommending that you go along this evening to III (3 Stanton Terrace, Kingston 6) – a regular “plein air” venue for local, foreign and indie films in the city. The film will start at 7:00 p.m. (come early!) Admission is J$500 and drinks and snacks (including chick pea doubles!) will be available. Directions: Turn off Old Hope Road at TOTAL on to Stanton Terrace, III is second to last gate on the right.
This one is special for a couple of reasons. The film itself is a remarkable and unusual documentary, which I first saw on television in the UK and recorded on a video cassette tape (remember VCRs?). Not long after, I moved to Jamaica. The film has a dreamlike quality, with many scenes filmed in the Cockpit Country. Yes, there is a part of Cockpit Country – which is not only rich in natural resources, but also steeped deeply in history – called the Land of Look Behind. Its steep, round hills and deep valleys breathe the stories of conflicts and subterfuge, the Maroons and the British soldiers, who always had to look behind them when riding through the treacherous terrain for fear of attack. For a local, in depth view of the value of this unique environment, you can also watch “Cockpit Country is Our Home,” by Jamaican independent filmmaker Esther Figueroa on YouTube. It is excellent, and moving.
Jamaican Rastafarian filmmaker Barbara Blake Hannah says of the film, “This is a classic of the Reggae Films genre, one of the first made about real RASTA culture, and containing footage of Bob Marley’s funeral.”
So, it is interesting and ironic that, with the threat of bauxite mining in this fragile and unique part of Jamaica’s heritage, this film should be aired this evening. It is also a fundraiser for an excellent cultural and educational venture, SO((U))L HQ and Di Institute for Social Leadership, founded by activists Aziza Afifa and Georgia Love. I interviewed DJ Afifa in this blog last year. This is ground-breaking (and barrier-breaking) work they are doing and well worth supporting. So do go along. It will be quite a treat, and in a good cause… For more information, visit: www.thesoulhq.wordpress.com www.leadtochangeja.wordpress.com and http://www.amedjafifa.wordpress.com
Land of Look Behind is a 1982 documentary film about Jamaica directed by Alan Greenberg (90 minutes). The film begins with footage of Jamaica’s wild interior in the Cockpit Country. The film also features fascinating footage of the funeral of Bob Marley; and interviews with a number of Rastafarians, including dub poet Mutabaruka and the wonderful bluesy reggae singer Gregory Isaacs, who sadly passed away several years ago.
Land of Look Behind won the Chicago International Film Festival’s Gold Hugo Award. Famous German director Werner Herzog has said “This film achieves things never seen before in the history of cinema.” The American director Jim Jarmusch writes that Land of Look Behind is “striking…beautiful…near-perfect.”