Director: John Jackson, Deborah Thomas and Junior Wedderburn – Genre: documentary – Release year: 2011 – Currently sold out
For many around the world, Jamaica conjures up images of pristine beach vacations with a pulsating reggae soundtrack. The country, however, also has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and the population is actively grappling with legacies of Western imperialism, racial slavery, and political nationalism – the historical foundations of contemporary violence in Jamaica and throughout the Americas.
Bad Friday focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens incident, a moment just after the island’s independence, when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. The feature-length documentary recounts the poignant history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future.
For the film, Jackson, Thomas and Wedderburn interviewed Rasta elders who experienced the Coral Gardens incident. They convey what happened during and after the violent confrontation – and how they envisioned, and still envision, justice. The 63-minute long documentary, which was shot on DV, mini-DV and HD, also features archival footage and historical photographs, placing the interviews within the context of a longer history of persecution of the Rastafari movement. Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn, former drummer at the Jamaican National Dance Company and master drummer of Broadway’s The Lion King, has crafted the original Bad Friday soundtrack featuring 14 inspirational songs.
All the proceeds from Bad Friday are going back to the community through the Rastafari Coral Gardens Committee in order to provide assistance for those who experienced the Coral Gardens persecution.