IMDb > Life and Debt (2001)
Life and Debt
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Life and Debt (2001) More at IMDbPro »

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Jamaica Kincaid (narration)
Jamaica Kincaid (novel)
View company contact information for Life and Debt on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
28 February 2003 (UK) See more »
Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture. | Add synopsis »
2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Beyond the luxury hotels is the human impact See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)
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

Bill Clinton ... 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)

Kathy Owen ... News Anchor
Jerry J. Rawlings ... Himself - Former President, Ghana (archive footage) (as Jerry Rawlings)
Jamaica Kincaid ... Narrator (uncredited)

Directed by
Stephanie Black 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jamaica Kincaid  narration
Jamaica Kincaid  novel "A Small Place"

Produced by
Stephanie Black .... producer
Sarah Manley .... assistant producer: Jamaica
Cinematography by
Kyle Kibbe 
Richard Lannaman (director of photography)
Alex Nepomniaschy 
Malik Hassan Sayeed  (as Malik Sayeed)
Film Editing by
John Mullen 
Production Management
Betsy Blakemore .... production manager: New York City
Jeremy Francis .... production manager: Jamaica
Peter Packer .... production manager: Jamaica
Sound Department
Coll Anderson .... supervising sound editor
Mike Boyle .... additional sound (as Michael Boyle)
Andrew Bracken .... sound effects editor
Jesse Ehredt .... sound recordist
Dustin Hudson .... stereo sound engineer: Dolby
Blake Leyh .... additional sound editor
Kimberly R. McCord-Wilson .... additional dialogue (as Kimberly McCord)
Don McGregor .... additional sound
Frank Morrone .... re-recording mixer
Caleb Mose .... sound recordist
Brenda Ray .... sound recordist
Alex Soto .... assistant sound editor
Coll Anderson .... sound designer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
John Bentham .... Steadicam operator
Chris Brown .... additional camera operator (as Chris Browne)
Chris Brown .... assistant camera (as Chris Browne)
Earl Brown .... electrician
Earl Brown .... gaffer
Roy Buchanan .... grip
Richard Chisolm .... additional camera operator
Winfred 'Soljie' Henry .... grip
Katharine Kean .... additional camera operator (as Katherine Kean)
Tallawah Levy .... additional camera operator (as Talawah Levy)
Jonathan Weaver .... assistant camera
Editorial Department
Suzanne Bauman .... additional editor
Kelli Boyles .... post-production assistant
Shannon Clark .... post-production assistant
Donna Clarke .... post-production assistant
Jake Diamond .... additional picture editor
Alyce Hrakbak .... post-production assistant
Sean John .... post-production assistant
Benjamin Kast .... post-production assistant
Garrett Levin .... post-production assistant
Baderinwa Lumoja .... post-production assistant (as Baderinwa L-Umoja)
Lauren Nakamura .... post-production assistant
Nate Pommer .... post-production assistant
Carleene Samuels .... post-production assistant
Sky Sitney .... post-production assistant
Jon Stefansson .... additional editor
Nicholas Stone .... additional picture editor
Neal Usatin .... additional editor
Michael Yetter .... negative cutter (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Roy Buchanan .... driver
Winfred 'Soljie' Henry .... driver
Other crew
Ellin Baumel .... ITVS godsend
Lisa Crafts .... loan document design
Noelle Dean .... on-location researcher
Mr. Elvie .... research consultant
Ifeona Fulani .... text guidance
Justin Girard .... loan document design
Mr. Gunn .... research consultant
Phil Hall .... film publicist
Ben Hillman .... loan document design
Roberta Korus .... legal assistance
Horace Levy .... research consultant
Tallawah Levy .... production assistant (as Talawah Levy)
Victor Patterson .... production assistant
Carleene Samuels .... on-location researcher
Michelle Stewart .... on-location researcher
Neal Usatin .... assistant to director
Karen Williams .... text guidance
Michael Witter .... research consultant
Nancy Baker .... special thanks
Tracey Baker .... special thanks
Buju Banton .... special thanks
Alex Bingham .... special thanks
Adam Black .... special thanks
Larry Black .... special thanks
Sylvia Black .... special thanks
Yami Bolo .... special thanks
Jim Brown .... special thanks
Bigga Chambers .... special thanks
Elisa Chavez .... special thanks
Sarita Choudhury .... special thanks
Williams Cole .... special thanks
The Couch Family .... special thanks
Doreen Crujeiris .... special thanks
Aaron Denenberg .... special thanks
Bona Elswau .... special thanks
Lise Engel .... special thanks
Kurt Engfehr .... special thanks: Solarium Editorial
Leslie Fuchs-Obstfeld .... special thanks
Reg E. Gaines .... special thanks (as Reg. E. Gaines)
Danielle Goodman .... special thanks
David Greenwald .... special thanks
Laurie Gunst .... special thanks
Mary Gunst .... special thanks
Jason Hall .... special thanks
Michele Hamilton .... special thanks
The Harts .... special thanks
Jesper Haynes .... special thanks
Rohan Henry .... special thanks
The Henzel Family .... special thanks
Kim Ives .... special thanks
Ras Ivi .... special thanks
Ken Jacobs .... special thanks
Nancy Jeffries .... special thanks
K.K. .... special thanks (as KK)
Robert Kenner .... special thanks (as Rob Kenner)
Saul Landau .... acknowledgment: archival footage "Land of My Birth" and "Steppin'"
Aaron Langley .... special thanks
Horace Levy .... special thanks
James Lyons .... special thanks (as Jim Lyons)
Tynsi Lyons .... special thanks
The Manley Family .... special thanks
Cedella Marley .... special thanks
Tim Masick .... special thanks
Jim McKay .... special thanks (as Jim Mckay)
Pat McKay .... special thanks
Mutabaruka .... special thanks
Mark Polyocan .... special thanks: The Tape House
Jeffrey Posternak .... special thanks
Ricky .... special thanks (as Valdo and Ricky)
Heidi Schuster .... special thanks
Tim Sherry .... special thanks
Andreas Staka .... special thanks
Steven Starr .... special thanks
Carol Thomas .... special thanks
Valdo .... special thanks (as Valdo and Ricky)
Milton Walker .... special thanks
Katharina Weingartner .... special thanks
Haskell Wexler .... acknowledgment: archival footage "Land of My Birth" and "Steppin'"
Feonia Williams .... special thanks
Michael Witter .... special thanks
Irwin Young .... special thanks: Du Art

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Life + Debt" - International (English title) (poster title)
See more »
80 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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...See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The North Pole Deception (2010)See more »
FilthySee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
15 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Beyond the luxury hotels is the human impact, 3 February 2003
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.

This is the Jamaica the tourists see, says the narrator in Stephanie Black's documentary Life and Debt, a country of lush jungles, clear blue water, and sandy beaches. Beyond the luxury hotels, however, is a third world country fighting poverty, crime, and hopelessness. Based on the novel by Jamaica Kincaid A Small Place, Life and Debt, the film studies the effects of the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank on the economy of Jamaica, focusing on the impact of economic globalization on the dairy farmers and factory workers. Backed by a soundtrack of native reggae music, Life and Debt is filled with economic facts that require some knowledge to fully understand. You don't need a master's degree in Economics, however, to understand the desperate faces of children in poverty, the agony of farmers who can't sell their crops, or the hopelessness of factory workers who earn the equivalent of thirty US dollars per week.

Black interviews former Prime Minister Michael Manley who explains how the current situation came to be. When Jamaica achieved its independence in 1962 after being a colony of Great Britain for 400 years, help was needed to build its economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank gladly supplied this money in the form of short-term loans. These loans though came with strings attached. Subsidies to local farmers were prohibited and tariff barriers were lowered to allow cheap foreign goods to come into the country, inevitably driving local industries out of business. What's remains is tourism, sweatshops and fast-food chains. Manley blames the big Western powers that have used Jamaica for cheap labor and easy sales. For example, thanks to huge subsidies other countries including the United States exported powdered milk to Jamaica at an excessively low price, forcing the local dairy industry to shut down. He also points out that big American businesses like Chiquita, Dole, and Del Monte have worked to stifle exports of local Jamaican bananas. Manley asks of the IMF, "You ask, 'In who's interest? I ask, 'Who set it up?"

Watching this documentary, it became clearer to me why thousands of people took to the streets in Seattle to protest the WTO Conference. It may not be widely known but the WTO has established ground rules that make it easier for the developed countries to market their products in third world countries. Under WTO rules,

1. Governments are not allowed to pass laws that favor local firms and discriminate against foreign-owned corporations.

2. Governments are not allowed to prevent foreign nationals from buying a controlling interest in local companies.

3. Governments are not allowed to subsidize domestic companies.

4. Governments are not allowed to pass laws that would provide favorable terms of trade to particular trading partners.

Ralph Nader said it all when he described globalization as being the subordination of human rights, environmental rights, and consumer rights. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank now own almost every facet of the Jamaican economy and the only ones that are making money are franchises like McDonalds, Wendy's, and Burger King who contribute little more than unskilled low paying service jobs. If you are thinking about asking the IMF to change its policies, keep in mind that any change in IMF policy requires an 80% approval and the richest nations such as the United States, Western Europe, Japan make up more than 80% of the vote. Life and Debt, like the recent film Bowling for Columbine, is one-sided, in your face, and may appeal only to those already in agreement. However, its images are so vivid that, for the first time, you may experience the human impact of policies that can turn the world into "one big casino".

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