Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Life and Debt-A film by Stephanie Black

Release Date-April 22, 2001.

Running time-1 hour 20 minutes.

Here is a description of this very deeply moving and thought-provoking documentary on the effects that globalization has had on Jamaica's economy, and the repercussions that have resonated across the whole island.

Life and Debt is a 2001 American documentary film directed by Stephanie Black. It examines the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically the impact thereon of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's globalization policies. Its' starting point is the award-winning non-fiction essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.

Kathleen C. Fennessy's review of the documentary states:

“Set to a beguiling reggae beat, Life and Debt takes as its subject Jamaica's economic decline in the 20th century. The story has reverberations in the plight of other third-world nations blindsided by globalization, like Ghana and Haiti. After England granted Jamaica independence in 1962, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in with a series of loans.”

These loans were conditional on structural adjustment policies, which required Jamaica to enact economic reforms-trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation. However, the reforms were unsuccessful and left the country with $4.6 billion dollars in debt. The film blames the IMF and the West for causing this situation.

The film features a number of interviews with former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in which he critiques the system of International Financial Institution loans. He is particularly critical of required structural adjustments as an attack on the sovereignty of many former colonial nations and suggests the system is akin to imperialism or neocolonialism. Similar claims have been made popular by former Chief Economist of the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz.

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