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Life and Debt (2001)

Cast: Jamaica Kincaid, Buju Banton, Yami Bolo, more...
Director: Stephanie Black
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: New Yorker Video
Genre: Documentary, Politics and Social Issues, Political & Social Issues
Running Time: 86 min.
Languages: English
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Recently Rented By themark

In 1962, Jamaica won its independence from the United Kingdom, and the island nation, which had long struggled with poverty, attempted to use its agricultural resources in order to create a sound economic base. As Jamaica's financial problems grew more severe with time, prime minister Michael Manley struck a deal in 1977 with a consortium of economic institutions through the International Monetary Fund, who would loan money to the nation in exchange for removal of trade restrictions and subsidized exports. Twenty-five years later, most Jamaicans would agree that the deal drove a stake through the island's agricultural and industrial economy; imports from America have ruined the island's dairy industry, interference from growers and merchants in the United States and Latin America have effectively ended the growing of onions, bananas, carrots, and potatoes as cash crops, the value of the Jamaican dollar has plummeted, and the island is now seven billion dollars in debt to the IMF, with interest driving that figure higher each day. Filmmaker Stephanie Black examines the sad state of Jamaica's economy in the face of "free trade" in the global economy in the documentary Life + Debt, which includes interviews with Michael Manley and IMF director Stanley Fischer; the Jamaica Kincaid novel A Small Place provides some of the text for the film's narration. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Additional Footage from Michael Manley's Interview
  • Director's Commentary
  • Bonus Music Video
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

Thank you Greencine! by HChang September 14, 2006 - 12:39 AM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
For introducing me to a wonderfully made documentary on the effects of the policies of the International Monetary Fund on Jamaica. The film is not biased against the IMF (and the World Bank) because director Stephanie Black allows the IMF to defend its terms of the loan contract. It is incredulous to me that the IMF official can claim the conditions imposed on Jamaica are intended to aid Jamaica gain economic independence when in reality, those conditions force Jamaica to open up its market to a flood of imported goods that are usually unwanted and much cheaper than locally-made goods. This has driven many local farmers out of business because they are unable to compete with cheap imports. I still have images of a dairy farmer setting lose the tap to drain the unwanted (fresh) milk because he couldn't compete with imported (powdered) milk.

Life and Debt is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to know more about the impacts large institutions and powerful nations have on small countries with no natural resources of interest to the rest of the world. Also, if you enjoy reggae, you'll love the choice of songs!

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.57)
61 Votes
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Do the Reggae
Named after the Toots & the Maytals song commonly recognized as the first reggae tune, this list contains both Greencine's current reggae film inventory and complaints about what's missing...

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