Inna De Yard: The BRWC Review

Inna De Yard

Inna De Yard: The BRWC Review. By Halli Burton.

In his song Trenchtown Rock, the late great Bob Marley chanted “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”.  

Inna de Yard, a documentary written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Webb (Girl With a Pearl Earring), is much like that song in that it’s a joyful ode to reggae music. More specifically, it’s a celebration of roots reggae, a sub-genre that acted as a voice piece for ostracised Rastas in the 1960s and 70s to spread cultural, spiritual and political messages to the masses.

The film is set against a picturesque backdrop of rural Jamaica, and starkly juxtaposed with the lasting effects of colonialism, namely poverty and violence, that continue to plague this enchanting Caribbean island.

Inna de Yard follows several pioneers of reggae as they embark on a project to reversion some of their classic hits to create an acoustic album that climaxes in an historic concert in Paris, France. The line up is impressive by any standard, with veterans Ken ‘Everything I Own’ Boothe and Judy Mowatt – a member of Bob Marley’s iconic backing group the I Threes, and less well-known artists Cedric Myton, Kiddus I and Winston McAnuff. The album recording takes place in a studio in Stony Hill on the outskirts of Jamaica’s capital, Kingston. 

The film effortlessly entwines epic archive clips with current footage resulting in compelling storytelling. I wondered what the artists were thinking when watching their younger selves at the top of their game, performing on stage, recording in the studio or appearing in cult cinema, as was the case for Kiddus I who had a starring role in the 1970s cult classic Rockers

Through a traditional fog of marijuana smoke, the musicians share tales about their life’s trials, love and losses. Kiddus I laments about his failed music career following deportation from the US. Winston McAnuff gets teary when speaking about his 25 year old son Matthew who was knifed to death in 2012. Cedric Myton, the adorable falsetto-voiced singer, speaks about his beloved Jamaica and family abroad (he has 11 children!), while Ken Boothe opens up about his past drug abuse and his devotion to his long-suffering wife.

On a lighter note, the elders also impart their wisdom and passion to the younger generation of reggae artists, in this instance Derajah and Jah9, the latter who records a beautiful song, Black Woman, with Judy Mowatt. 

Inna de Yard is an enjoyable finger-clicking celebration of reggae music and is on general UK release on 30 August.

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