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Life and Debt (2001)

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Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture.



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Credited cast:
Belinda Becker ...
Narrator (voice)
Buju Banton ...
Himself - Singer
Horst Köhler ...
Himself - Director, International Monetary Fund (archive footage) (as Horst Kohler)
Michael Manley ...
Himself - Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
Stanley Fischer ...
Himself - Deputy Director International Monetary Fund
Michael Witter ...
Himself - Professor of Economics, University of West Indies (as Dr. Michael Witter)
David Coore ...
Himself - Former Minister of Finance, Jamaica
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)
Jean-Bertrand Aristide ...
Himself - President, Haiti
Yami Bolo ...
Himself - Singer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tom Lipetzky ...
Himself - U.S. Potato Board (archive footage)
News Anchor
Jerry J. Rawlings ...
Himself - Former President, Ghana (archive footage) (as Jerry Rawlings)


Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

28 February 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Life & Debt  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,902 (USA) (3 August 2001)


$241,297 (USA) (22 March 2002)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Narrator: "Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Not too long after, it was settled by human rubbish from Europe, who used enslaved but noble and exalted human beings from Africa to satisfy their desire for wealth and power. Eventually the masters left, in a kind of way; eventually the salves were freed, in a kind of way. Of course, the whole thing is, once you cease to be master you're no longer human rubbish, you're just a human being and all the things that adds up to; so too with ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special heartfelt gratitude to the interviewees who share the truth with such eloquence. See more »


Referenced in The North Pole Deception (2010) See more »


One Love / People Get Ready
Written by Bob Marley / Curtis Mayfield
Remix by Bill Laswell
Courtesy of Axiom/Island Records (ASCAP)
All rights reserved/Used by special permission
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User Reviews

Informative and Important Documentary
29 May 2002 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

"Life and Debt" documents the extremely negative effects "globalization" has on the Jamaican economny and agriculture. Juxtaposing typical tourist views with searingly challenging economic conditions of Jamaican natives, the audience begins to see a side of this culture normally hidden away.

Hearing representatives from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank talk, one recognizes the familiar rhetoric--administrative jargon which obscures its callous action: look out for one's self first and foremost.

Well-known US companies are documented here as part of the problem. Their motivation is to make a profit, period, no matter at what cost or human price.

American stockholders tend here to look at and be primarily concerned with how many points their shares rise--"Life and Debt" shows the downside of that rise. There's a lot more to life than merely being concerned about one's self. This film cries out for us to hear the needy call of our planetary brother and sister.

Capitalism and competition tend to be cold animals--and one buys into those concepts because they're in place and operating . . . never stopping to think that there may be an exploitative side to these activities.

Stephanie Black captures that side in this documentary. The tourists are rightly there to have a good time, yet we cannot turn our backs on our neighbors. Imposing grossly high interest rates and stipulations that cause them to sink greater into debt each year is not aiding them. Unloosing our subsidized powered milk on their marketplace while their unsold whole milk must be poured down the drain is not being fair.

When rioters and demonstrators took to the streets there and in the US against globalization, I wondered what it was all about. "Life and Debt" helped provide a subsantive explanation. The film is not an entertainment: it is a serious, thought-provoking film to inform.

As I sat in a near-empty movie house, with some people leaving before the end of the film, I wondered where was the audience? I thought, are we not all involved in this scenario? When we buy items "assembled in" Jamaica, do we really realize what that means in terms of "free zone?"

When we delight in paying very low prices for items made in China, Japan, Mexico, and the like, how does that really impact upon those countries' workers? "Life and Debt" helps provide an answer.

I very much value this documentary, and look forward to obtaining the dvd when released, to further ponder world economic check and balances and rethink the entire concept of "globalization."

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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