With her documentary called One People premiering in Kingston and NYC on the day that marks 50 years of Jamaica’s independence, Justine Henzell is continuing a legacy. She’s the daughter of Perry Henzell, the man who co-wrote, produced and directed the global cult classic with a soundtrack for the ages: The Harder They Come. In Kingston’s freshly erected Jubilee Village, row upon row of metal yellow chairs face two massive screens. A blustery tropical wind blows through the afternoon, and Justine and her co-producer Zachary Harding are on an elevated viewing platform off to the side, about to watch not only their film, but also reactions of the wild, pride-filled crowd of thousands.
“I wanted to do something for August 6th that was completely positive,” Justine explains, “On this day, I wanted everyone to feel proud.” Exactly one year ago, Justine, Zachary and the project’s Executive Producer and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald—put out a call for submissions, and the film is a compilation of these user-generated declarations of Jamaica’s influence and interviews the pair conducted with Jamaicans in places ranging from Senegal to Brooklyn. The result is a feel-good, deftly edited 90-minute film that kept the massive crowd roused. The likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte and endless more amazing Jamaicans communicate their love for this land. Sentiments are often hilarious and always insightful, like “A Jamaican man neva say, ‘nuh man she outta my league’” and “If you’ve got Jamaican in your blood stream, you’re halfway there.” There are also genius sequences on favorite Jamaican foods and most-loved patois expressions.
The film is fun, profound—and 100% made in Jamaica. “In Jamaica, film is next,” Zachary says, “and this achievement says it can be done.” As the credits roll and the crowd rises, Justine smiles and says, “It’s the goodwill Jamaica has around the world that made this possible.” For the thousands who viewed One People right here and those abroad, the Henzell legacy undoubtedly lives on, through positivity and indelible personalities. Watch out world—Jamaica keep coming hot.
Digging Jamaica? Visit the 100m Shop and get your jerk-reggae-patois-sunshine fix. (Sunscreen recommended.)