17 user 29 critic

Life and Debt (2001)

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



(narration), (novel)

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2 wins. See more awards »


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 ...
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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 »


Be Still Babylon
Written and Performed by Rolando E. McLean
Yam Euphony Music Ltd./Warner Chapell Publishing/BMI
By special permission Yami Bolo
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User Reviews

Read it and weep, globalization supporters.
17 October 2001 | by (madison, wi.) – See all my reviews

This is a really tragic and shattering film. I saw it a few days ago in New York at a lower East side cinema. It is a very honest and yet artistically distinguished portrait of the demise of a Caribbean nation - Jamaica. Interspersed with the cold, hard facts of how the international community has loaned the country money at predatory interest rates, and then dumped products on Jamaica's undeveloped markets, thus destroying native industries, are scenes of tourists enjoying Jamaica's bounties, oblivious to the nature of the natives' distress.

The woman who made this film narrates it herself, and she wrote a book on the subject before she made this film. So her credentials for knowledge about the subject are very strong. She employs a few cinematic flourishes, such as the blurred-edge-of-screen effect when she shows poor Jamaicans digging about in a garbage dump. The soundtrack is replete with great reggae songs, including the potent and topical title track.

Basically, this film is more important in its 90 minutes than about a hundred typically vapid Hollywood productions stacked back to back. This film teaches you something about the world - about the exploitation of the weak, about the myth of the "helping" nature of the IMF and the World Bank, and about the everyday lives of desperately poor third world people. All proponents of "globalization" should see this film, and then be required to defend their views to the people who have been victimized by globalization's cruel and relentless march. Similarly, everyone who works for the major media in the US should see this, and should be ashamed of themselves for defending the policies that have contributed to the downfall of a proud and beautiful people such as those of Jamaica. And silence is the major defense employed on behalf of such policies.

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