Beautiful Jamaica – Behind the Scenes

by Ardavan

Life and Debt, released in 2001 is a documentary film directed by Stephanie Black with excerpts from the award winning book, A Small Place written by Jamaica Kinacid. This documentary focuses on individual lives of Jamaican’s after they gained independence from the British in 1962. Recently, the people in North America have faced an economic downturn which occurred due to a recession. The problem that majority of North American’s have been facing for the past 2 years is the same ongoing issue for Jamaican’s for the past 40 years. Yet, the impact on Jamaica is much more severe as portrayed brilliantly by Stephanie Black.

The film puts the viewer in perspective by opening with a narration from the book A Small Place by Jamaica Kinacid. Stephanie Black’s use of motion pictures illustrates the vast amount of problems that Jamaican’s face. For example, the film includes the interviews of Jamaican citizen’s along with factual information to support the outcry of each individual. This documentary not only covers the issues regarding Jamaica, but also the underlying problems of developing nations due to globalization. Life and Debt is directed in way that is able to show two different perspectives; the view point of Jamaican’s living in Jamaica and the tourist’s point of view. The exploitation of Jamaica through international organizations such as the World Bank and International monetary fund is shown with factual clarity. This insightful film allows the viewer to understand that majority of consumer sales not only derive from developing nations, but also the impact it has on such states. The narration at times is aggressive throughout the film and it tends to attack the new world order that’s heavily affected Jamaica. Furthermore, Stephanie Black includes foreign actor’s that contribute to this ongoing problem of globalization. For instance during this film, Black indirectly criticized the United States for intervening in the Jamaican market.

However, this powerful documentary is not well rounded. It is extremely one-sided, and it lacks a counter argument. It also failed to provide a wide variety of interviews. At times this documentary feels like a cheap-shot towards corporations and international organizations. Regardless, the facts provided are enough to move the viewer into one direction. Life and Debt can be regarded as a very well made documentary on economics. Everyone and anyone should watch this intelligible piece of motion picture. It has the capability to change the view of each individual for the better, and maybe then the future generations will solve the problem of globalization on developing nations.

Two thumbs up!


Black, Stephanie, Belinda Becker, Michael Manley, Stanley Fischer, Michael Witter, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and Jamaica Kincaid. Life and Debt. New York, NY: Tuff Gong Pictures, 2003.


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