Produced and directed by John Jackson, Jr. and Deborah Thomas, along with Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn and Junior “Ista J” Manning, BAD FRIDAY focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens incident, a moment just after the island’s independence, when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. The feature-length documentary recounts the poignant history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future.
For the film, Jackson, Thomas, Wedderburn and Manning interviewed Rasta elders who experienced the Coral Gardens incident. They convey what happened during and after the violent confrontation – and how they envisioned, and still envision, justice. The 63-minute long documentary, which was shot on DV, mini-DV and HD, also features archival footage and historical photographs, placing the interviews within the context of a longer history of persecution of the Rastafari movement. Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn, former drummer at the Jamaican National Dance Company and master drummer of Broadway’s The Lion King, has crafted the original BAD FRIDAY soundtrack featuring 14 inspirational songs.
BAD FRIDAY experienced its world premiere last year in the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. Since then the documentary has been shown at various film festivals in the Caribbean and North America, including the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and Hollywood Black Film Festival. On February 10, the film will receive its European premiere in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The film will be screened at Rootical Vibrations, a popular Rasta-related film and music event hosted by Caribbean Creativity (www.caribbeancreativity.nl) that is one-of-its kind in Europe. Two of the filmmakers, Thomas and Wedderburn, will specially visit Amsterdam to participate in this festive premiere.
Besides playing the festival circuit, BAD FRIDAY is out now on DVD. The documentary is distributed by Third World Newsreel and can be purchased by institutions through www.twn.org and by individuals through www.filmbaby.com or the film’s official website, www.badfridaythemovie.com. Individuals can buy the DVD for $19,99 and download the film for $14,99. The BAD FRIDAY soundtrack can be purchased through www.cdbaby.com ($12,97 for the CD, $9,99 for the download).
"Amidst the proliferation of films on Rasta, none have managed to fathom the Rastafari experience of their Jamaican Babylon like BAD FRIDAY. Now that Rasta is an increasingly co-opted global culture, this is as close as the untutored will get to understanding the meanings of being ‘Dread’ during the pre-reggae period when adherents were viewed as a ‘cult of outcasts’ and routinely victimized. A powerful and timely historical document that speaks to the ways that remembering-and-forgetting continue to shape Jamaica’s post-colonial identity."
Jake Homiak, Curator of “Discovering Rastafari”, Smithsonian Institution