Life and Debt

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Life and Debt
Directed byStephanie Black
Produced byStephanie Black
Written byJamaica Kincaid
Narrated byBelinda Becker
CinematographyKyle Kibbe
Richard Lannaman
Alex Nepomniaschy
Malik Hassan Sayeed
Edited byJohn Mullen
Distributed byNew Yorker Films (USA) Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release date
  • April 22, 2001 (2001-04-22)
Running time
80 mins.
CountryUnited States

Life and Debt is a 2001 American documentary film directed by Stephanie Black. It examines the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's structural adjustment policies have impacted the island.


Life and Debt is a 2001 United States documentary film directed by Stephanie Black about the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically the impact of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank's policies. It starts with the essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.

The IMF loans were conditional on structural adjustment policies, which required Jamaica to enact major economic reforms, including trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation. Reforms were not successful and left Jamaica with $4.6 billion in debt.

The film features a number of interviews with former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, in which he critiques the system of International Financial Institution loans. He is particularly critical of required structural adjustments as an attack on the sovereignty of many former colonial nations and suggests the system is akin to imperialism or neocolonialism.

Musical score[edit]

The musical score includes songs like "G-7" by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and numerous songs by Bob Marley like "One Love", "Work", "Three Little Birds", "Zimbabwe", "No Woman, No Cry" performed by Dean Fraser, "Fortunes of Love" by Suzanne Couch/Brian Jobson, "Circumstances" and "Destiny" by Buju Banton, "Chantilly Lace" by J.P. Richardson, "Give Them the Ride" by Sizzla, "Filthy" by H. Browne and Danny Browne, "Island in the Sun (Harry Belafonte song)" and Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) by Harry Belafonte, "Be still Babylon" by Rolando E. McLean, "Fools Die" by Peter Tosh, "Raid the barn" performed by Anthony B. The song "Life and Debt" was performed by Mutabaruka.[1]


  • 2004 Festival International du Film Insulaire, Ole de Groix, Special Jury Prize
  • 2004 Paris Human Rights Film Festival, Special Jury Prize
  • LA Weekly's Ernest Hardy and Paul Malcolm pick Life and Debt in his Best Films 2002 list.
  • Cinemambiente Int. Environmental Film Fest. 2002 Teen Jury Best Film of Festival, Turin, Italy
  • 2002 Prague One World Film Festival, Audience Award[2]
  • One World Media Awards-Finalist, International Premier Award, England
  • Best Documentary at the Jamerican Film festival.
  • Critics Jury Award, Honorable Mention "Best Film of the festival" at the Independent Feature Project/West Los Angeles Film Festival. The critics jury was composed of Jami Bernard from the New York Daily News, Emanuel Levy of Screen Intl. and Stephanie Zacharaek of

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Stephanie Black Life & Debt, Credits "Life and Debt" Film website, 2001, retrieved 20 July 2018
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-10. Retrieved 2010-09-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)