IRIE ISLAND: An inspiring and nostalgic celebration of a people.
About half of a century ago, when the Union Jack was lowered at the National Stadium and the Jamaican flag hoisted for the very first time, the occasion marked a euphoric, prideful turning-point in the life of a nation determined to stand firmly on its own two feet. Fifty years later (as whispers of replacing the Queen as sovereign abound), Jamaica is still that big little country on a mission, full of pride and fiercely independent.
Our countless achievements (athletics, arts, scholarship, wellness…) over the course of those five decades are more than enough to speak of – and supremely difficult to compress into a 90-minute documentary. But that’s exactly what uberproducers Justine Henzell and Zachary Harding and the rest of the creative team behind 1962 Productions have managed to pull off with OnePeople, a wonderfully timely and beautifully executed tribute to Jamaica in the year of her Golden Jubilee.
Hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shineth. That’s more or less how we feel at this juncture in the existence of our homeland – and that’s precisely the central idea that pulses and courses throughout OnePeople, which winningly mixes archival footage and reflective interviews with a who’s who of illustrious Jamaicans, young and young-at-heart, at home or out there making a mark in the Diaspora.
There is Carolyn Cooper, Alfred Sangster, Ian Boyne, Marcia Griffiths and Tarrus Riley offering reflections on the Jamaica of yesteryear; and here we have Colin Powell, Constance White, Jaunel McKenzie, Romain Virgo, Elephant Man, Sean Paul and Shaggy serving up anecdotes on everything from the uniqueness of the Jamaican dialect to the finger-lickin’ goodness of our local dishes. For the record, when it comes to a good bickle, there is nothing cricket legend Courtney Walsh and former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson cherish more than a delicious plate of stew peas.
But the most delightful of the cameos came from, hands down, comedic whiz Tony ‘Paleface’ Hendricks, who gives a spot-on and hilarious demonstration of the Jamaican art of having an entire conversation by employing just one vowel sound.
Elsewhere, OnePeople is a nostalgic and inspiring celebration of the island’s pristine natural beauty, our position of prominence on the international cultural scene (thanks in large part to the popularity and power of reggae music), and our talented people. “When I step out, there is a certain level of confidence in me,” offers crooner Richie Stephens, “and I see it in others, and this tells me that no one can stop us.”