Ghett’ A life is the all-Jamaican smash hit film that secured the no.1 spot for 10 weeks in Jamaica and won the Best Pitch Award at Cannes Film Festival when it was first released in July 2011. The gritty, against-the-odds action drama has now been re-released by Kush Media for Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence.
Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous inner city ghetto’s referred to as the ‘Garrisons’, in Kingston – Ghett’ A Life draws the audience into the life of Derrick (Kevoy Burton), a teenager cornered by his desire to overcome his politically entrenched father, and his segregated and violent community controlled by ‘Don Sin’, to attain his dreams of boxing stardom.
Written and directed by Chris Browne, who directed the previous box office success Third World Cop (Jamaica’s largest grossing film to date), and executive produced by former boxing World Champion, Lennox Lewis – Ghett’A Life continues to resonate with its audiences worldwide through its cutting depiction of the ongoing political unrest and dominance of the political enforcers, known as, the ‘Dons’ that has permeated and divided the Capital since the 1940’s. At a time when the roots of organized violence in Jamaica began during electoral disputes between the founders of Jamaica’s two political parties – Norman Manley (founder of the People’s National Party) and Alexander Bustamante (founder of the Jamaica Labour Party).
The UK Guardian initially stated that the films, “political ambitions punch above its weight”, which is grossly unfair, as the historical intricacies of Jamaica’s political antagonisms are far too grandiose to execute in the given budget and 104 minutes of the film. However, what Browne skillfully knocks out, is the unbeknown and unique political state of Jamaica during election times. As Browne states “We don’t kill one another about God, like people do in some parts of the world. But what we do kill one another over is politics.”
Browne captures the prevalent themes of hope and determination over political adversity through a stylised use of cinematography, giving the film a well executed punch in the face of the multi-million Hollywood blockbusters the US can continuously roll out.
Ghett’ A Life has a well written, witty and at times densely emotive story line, with an easy to follow plot structure, not to mention an impressive cast such as – Carl Davis (Dancehall Queen), Teddy Price (Small Island), Winston ‘Bello’ Bell (Third World Cop) and Karen Robinson ( Soul Food & Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story).
Admittedly, some viewers may find that the perceived glorification of guns and violence in the film will only serve to have a negative hypodermic needle effect on some younger viewers with a limited socio-political understanding and intellectual sense of reasoning. As violence and corruption is only one small aspect of the beautiful Island of Jamaica, and an alternative white sandy beach and academically driven angle would be more positive. However, Ghett’A Life is a gripping, yet entertaining true to life story that must be seen despite the critical punches it has taken – If the likes of the Guardian fail to realise the true nature of the film, then clearly there is no place for light weight comments with a film that definitely packs a heavy weight punch.
Have a peek at the trailer for Ghett’A Life below – The must-see film that gets a 4.5/5 from me.
For future screenings check out the Kush Films website or follow @KushFilms on twitter.