The film was available to stream online on the virtualWOMEX platform from the 24 September - 8 October 2020 with your WOMEX 20 Digital Registration.
Directed by Jeremy Marre
58 mins | UK, 1977
Kingston, Jamaica, 1977: a flashpoint year for reggae music and for its tiny homeland. Police and thieves battle in the street as politicians fight for power – and reggae musicians struggle for people’s souls. This was the first in-depth documentary about reggae music in Jamaica, and the social and political importance of this ‘cry of the people.’
Roots Rock Reggae shows us Jamaican society from the violent struggles of the Trenchtown ghetto to the placid hills behind Kingston, where Rastafarians drum and sing hymns, and everything in between: the sound systems, back-street studios – including Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s famous Arc – political bandwagons and radio stations. This film captures a moment in time in Jamaica’s history when music became the island’s voice. It immortalises the heroes that went on to become superstars.
Jeremy Marre (1943-2020) made over 100 films during a fifty year career which spanned the globe, documenting and promoting the music and culture of the marginalised, and shedding new light on the lives of those on whom he turned his camera. Marre’s early work included the seminal 14 part series, Beats of the Heart and his final film, Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes, was completed in 2019. It is currently being broadcast around the world. It is now available to stream on Amazon and will be shown by the BBC on 24 October 2020.
Featuring: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Jacob Miller and Inner Circle, Joe Higgs, The Abysinnians, Sly and Robbie, I Roy and U Roy, Jack Ruby, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.
Film Contact: Harcourt Films