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Jamaica Film Season At Leeds International Film Festival

Image: courtesy of the Henzell family.

November 5th — 11th

Various locations

A season of films by Jamaican film makers or inspired by Jamaican culture. From Perry Henzell’s seminal The Harder They Come celebrating its 50th anniversary and Babylon, Franco Rossi’s 1980 classic exploration of the trials and tribulations of the young Black London community — to new films by new and emerging directors and producers.

The Jamaica Society Leeds’ Out of Many Festival is delighted to partner with Leeds International Film Festival to bring this season of culturally important Jamaican films to Leeds. We are also delighted to partner with JAFTA (the Jamaica Film & Television Association) to bring a series of short films from new and upcoming writers and directors as part of LIFF. 

This exciting film season, entitled One Love From Jamaica, runs from November 5-11.



Perry Henzell, Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw  

5th November 6pm, 7th November 3.15pm; Everymans  

Perry Henzell’s daughter Justine has recorded a special introduction to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary. As well as being a golden time for reggae, the early 1970s was the time for classic Jamaican film. The Harder They Come broke out in 1972, riding a wave of optimism a decade after independence. Co-written by Trevor D. Rhone (Smile Orange), this classic cult film fuses a true tale of a country boy turned badman with that of ruthless reggae star-making. Jimmy Cliff plays Ivanhoe, newly arrived in Kingston and searching for work. While Ivanhoe sinks to badman crime, the music, by Cliff, Desmond Dekker and The Maytals’ Toots, soars. 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.


ROCKERS + short film SINK OR SWIM  

Theodoros Bafaloukos Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Richard ‘Dirty Harry’ Hall, Monica Craig 

6th November 4pm, 10th November 11am; Everyman 

Rockers is a deep delight for anyone keen to explore Jamaican culture. ‘Horsemouth’ is a man trying to feed his family, buying a motorbike to distribute hot reggae records around town. He runs into strife as he loses his wheels and turns ‘Robin Hood’. The roll-call of amazing reggae stars, often playing themselves or simply hanging out, is more than reason enough to see this, but Rockers is uniquely special in its wonderful and unique texture of the actual 1978 Kingston, full of genuine vibes and off-kilter humour. Screening with the World premiere of the new Jamaican short Sink or Swim. Screening with the World Premiere of Jamaican short Sink or Swim, directed by Tony Hendriks & Natalie Thompson, and selected by the Jamaica Film & Television Association. 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.



Storm Saulter Sheldon Shepherd,Sky Nicole Grey, Ricardo Orgil  

9th November 3pm; Everymans 

Jamaica’s long-brewing political conflict between left- and right- wing factions boiled over into violence around the 1976 election. Better Mus Come is set during these troubling times, the real-world response to which was the famous 1978 One Love Peace Concert, orchestrated by reforming gangsters. Better Mus Come connects the dots between Cold War politics and the politics of the street gangs, with hero Ricky attempting to navigate a path between his responsibilities as a father, community leader, poet and gangster. A rare insight into the street soul of a still-young nation. Screening with Nile Saulter’s short film Fever Dream, selected by the Jamaica Film and Television Association. 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.



Peter Webber Ken Boothe, Kiddus I, Winston Mcanuff  

November 9th 12:15; Vue at The Light screen 11 

Going back to where it all started: Jamaica’s lush country interior. This is where Jamaican music began and to where Inna de Yard returns; to capture the music ‘in its virgin state’. Re-recording their classic songs in acoustic, roots-y new versions are reggae heroes Cedric Myton, Kiddus I (Rockers), Winston Mcanuff and Ken Boothe. Together they form a kind of reggae soul supergroup, and wax lyrical about how creativity can always be re-charged by returning to country. Climaxing in a joyful Paris concert, this is a document of the essence of Jamaican culture.  

Screening with Jamaican dance short Hot Gyal by Shamara Spencer & Annastazia Chin, selected by the Jamaica Film and Television Association. 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50, book here.



Menelik Shabazz, Dennis Bovell, Paulette Harris-German, Janet Kay  

10th November 2.30pm Vue at The Light, screen 12 

Lovers Rock is a uniquely Black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of uprising, racism and sound systems. Shining a light on a forgotten period in British music, social and political history, the recently passed Menelik Shabazz’s documentary feature underlines the impact Lovers Rock made in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarised Thatcher’s nation. With a fantastic list of contributors, archive footage and witty reconstruction, this outstanding film gives us one of the great untold tales of Jamaican-UK connection.  

Screening with Jamaican short film Sugarcake, directed by Joshua Paul, selected by JAFTA (Jamaica Film & Television Association). 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.


BABYLON + short film FLIGHT  

Franco Rosso David N. Haynes, Trevor Laird, Victor Romero Evans 

11th November 3.30pm &15th November 12.45pm; Vue at the Light, screen 11 

A brilliant and important film that for many years since its 1980 release has languished, little-seen until the last decade. Babylon fleshes out the experiences of inner-city black Britons, the joyous release of sound systems, and the deep British racism that landed hard from several sources. Inspired by the great producer Dennis Bovell’s wrongful imprisonment, the story sees Brixton dub reggae DJ Blue pursue his art while struggling against the prejudice of neighbours, National Front, police and his employer. Few films were ever this good at depicting black life in Thatcher’s Britain.  

Screening with the UK premiere of the Jamaican short Flight by Kia Moses and Adrian McDonald, selected by the Jamaica Film and Television Association. 

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.



Mark James Ali Campbell, Clive Chin, Patricia Chin 

11th November 5.30pm, Vue at the Light screen 9 

As glimpsed in both The Harder They Come and Rockers, Kingston’s Studio 17 was the beating heart of mento, ska, reggae and dub for decades. Both studio record shop, it was integral to Jamdown sound, and when owners Randy and Patricia Chin moved to NYC in 1979, their new venture hit Queens with the potent sound that would push bass cultures out to the wider world. Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes tells those tales vividly, then delves deep into how to best bring an amazing long-lost archive of music up-to-date. 

This feature film will also be available to view on Leeds Film Player from 12 to 17 November.  

Tickets £9.50/£7.50; book here.

An Out of Many Festival partner event delivered by Leeds International Film Festival.