Life and Debt Film Response- Catherine Danesta- Section #2

The documentary Life and Debt is set in the place of Jamaica. Jamaica is a small island located in the Caribbean sea. This documentary was released in 2001; it  examined the ways that policies of the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.), the World Bank, and other aid organizations have changed the Jamaican economy over the past 25 years. The filmmaker uses sense of place as a locate to tell the story. At the beginning of the film, there’s a lady’s voice that is telling the audience about how Jamaica is a paradise for the tourists people and how beautiful it is, but also she tells us about how the Jamaican people view jamaica differently due to all of their struggles and the poverty they face due to the agreement that Jamaica made with the IMF. Jamaica made the agreement with the IMF due to the 1970’s crisis of the oil price increasing, so they had to borrow money from them. At that time Jamaica was barely becoming independent from Britain(i think) so it still needed time to grow as a nation. The lady also describes Jamaica as a small Island that is good for agriculture. From the film we see that they can cultivate many different types of foods, which means that the land is rich.


From the film Life and Debt we can see different types of scales of Jamaica. We can see the local Scale which shows the different neighborhoods within Jamaica. We see the tourist side of Jamaica which is described as a paradise but we also see the poverty side of Jamaica. The poverty side is where the Jamaican people have their homes at. The tourist side of Jamaica is near the beach where there’s beautiful hotels and views to accommodate them. The film also shows us the workplace scale. From this scale we can see the struggles that the Jamaican people go through due to the low payments they receive. Apart from getting paid too little they work in very poor conditions. The fact that they get paid very little affects their home because there is not enough money to pay the living expenses. We can also see that the foods they cultivate in Jamaica are more expensive than the foods that come from the U.S. This affects the workers that work in the agriculture field. Another type of scale that is used to tell the story is the global scale which shows us the trading agreements Jamaica has with other nations. An example of this scale is that the US imports their foods to Jamaica for less money than what the food in Jamaica costs. Another example is that Jamaica exports its goods to other nations like Britain and the US.

My personal thought of the film is that it was very educative for me since I had not heard before about what was going on in Jamaica and about the struggles that the Jamaican people faced, so all of what was in the documentary was new for me.


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