One of the interesting and thought provoking entrants to this year’s Reggae Film Festival set for August1-5 at the Island Village in Ocho Rios, Jamaica is LOSING PARADISE & MUSIC, documentary film directed and produced by the multi-talented Jamaican-born singer, stage and screen actress, Claudja Barry.
Barry, who is greatly anticipation the showing of her documentary at the festival, says she’ll also looking forward to joining the likes of leading female dub poetess, Cherry Natural and Reggae/Dancehall aficionado, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, in a panel discussion of her creation, “Losing Paradise & Music”.
According to Barry,”Losing Paradise & Music documents the negative impact Reggae/Dancehall music is having on society. However, Barry is of the view the language of Dancehall and the attitude of its performers send a negative voice to Jamaican youth and to the rest of the world.
Many of the persons appearing in the documentary echo a similar sentiment, and do feel Jamaica has become a culture of violence and that sending this message through it’s music, doesn’t help.
Barry, who set out to hear the views of a wide group of Jamaicans on why Dancehall music has taken on such a dark image, admitted the documentary was a result of a personal quest to know if there were any redeeming qualities about Dancehall, which has become the dominant sound emanating out of bowels of the Jamaica people over the past 20 odd years.
“I wanted to find out if Bob Marley’s message of love, respect and caring were prominent in the music of today, which is dancehall, and if the current artistes are holding up the standards set by Marley and those of his era,” said Barry, who interviewed psychologists, family life specialists, doctors and musicians for the project.
Losing Paradise & Music,which curiously zoomed in on dancehall’s dark side, debuted on OMNI 1 TV in Canada earlier this year (February 17). And having chosen to look on the darker side of the music, one can’t help but wanting to know whether Barry was about censorship.
“As an artiste, I don’t believe in censoring others’ creative output, but where I draw the line is when society fails to realize that without exposure to other forms of music, some people limit themselves emotionally, which will limit how the whole person develops,” said Barry, a Jamaican who grew up in Canada.
According to Barry, she understands there are a generation of listeners who have heard only dancehall reggae and obviously enjoy that form of music.
“I’m in no way trying to change anyone’s preference, but, there should be music appreciation in schools, so that from an early age all children would have knowledge of all types of music,” said Barry, who studied acting at the world-famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City, then studied voice in Berlin and Vienna. She has also recorded several albums and appeared in the 1985 movie,Rapping, and was inducted into the Canadian Black Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
”Losing Paradise” will next be shown on August 3rd at 8 p.m. at the upcoming Reggae Music Festival, scheduled for August 1-5 at the Island Village in Echo Rios, Jamaica. It has also been said to be one of this years top entries.
Delroy A. Whyte-Hall