|Montego Bay, JAMAICA -- While "Life and Debt," the new documentary by filmmaker Stephanie Black, has been selling out New York movie theaters, the film has been a mere footnote in the longstanding and ongoing economic debate here in Jamaica. The documentary premiered earlier this year at the 12th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival in the US and opened in Jamaica at the Island Cinema in Kingston on July 29, 2001. The Jamaica premiere was sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board and Bob Marley Foundation. Audiences in the Washington, D.C. metro area will have an opportunity to screen the film on August 21, 2001 on PBS.
Black's film puts a very human face, albeit a black face, on the realities of a globalized economy. In the wake of borderless economic controls by fewer and fewer multinational corporate entities, small countries like Jamaica are battling for survival. Black, who is a white female from New York, does not reduce the issue to any simplistic caricatures, but offers a heart-rending exploration of the complex economics behind the stranglehold that the IMF still has on the Land of Wood and Water years after their active relationship formally ended.
The film allows a diverse group of people in Jamaica to voice their understanding of and the impact of the IMF policies on their daily reality. Everyone from farmers, factory workers, writers, Rastafari elders, laborers, the late former Prime Minister Michael Manley and even the vacationing tourist had a story to tell. They are poignant and even humorous at times. Black was even able to interview Stanley Fischer, IMF Deputy Director who offered his organization's explanation of policies like devaluing the currency of the countries in which they are suppose to be offering economic assistance, a strategy that seems counterproductive to economic growth.
In next E-zine we'll offer perspectives of the film from the director as well as political and media personnel in Jamaica.
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