Life and Debt

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Life and Debt
Directed by Stephanie Black
Produced by Stephanie Black
Written by Jamaica Kincaid
Narrated by Belinda Becker
Cinematography Kyle Kibbe
Richard Lannaman
Alex Nepomniaschy
Malik Hassan Sayeed
Edited by John Mullen
Distributed by

New Yorker Films (USA)

Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release date
  • April 22, 2001 (2001-04-22)
Running time
80 mins.
Country United States
Language English

Life and Debt is a 2001 American documentary film directed by Stephanie Black. It examines the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically the impact thereon of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's structural adjustment policies. Its starting point is the essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.

These loans were conditional on structural adjustment policies, which required Jamaica to enact major economic reforms, including trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation. However, the reforms were not successful; the film claims the reforms left Jamaica with $4.6 billion in debt. The film blames the World Bank and the IMF for causing this situation.

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.


  • 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.
  • Cineambiente Int. Environmental Film Fest. 2002 Teen Jury Best Film of Festival, Turin, Italy
  • 2002 Prague One World Film Festival, Audience Award[1]
  • 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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-10. Retrieved 2010-09-17.