Life And Debt

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 this documentary.

Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid, Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.

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Download documentary here (torrent)

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