Brooklyn Academy of Music Hosts “Do The Reggae” Flim Festival Starting Today

Written by Amy Wachtel (@NightNurse1Love)

Reggae fans in the New York-Tri-State area will want to forget about the beach or any outdoor activities this weekend, and head over to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) where they can hole up with some of the wickedest Reggae flims—er, films—ever made. Billed as “Do The Reggae,” BAMcinematek will present a 14-film series celebrating Jamaica’s music and the 50th Anniversary of the Land of Wood and Water’s Independence.

The ‘FLIM’ Fest (in Jamaica, the word “film” is often flipped inside-out, and pronounced “flim”) opens today—Thursday August 2nd—with a new hi-def restoration of Ted Bafaloukos’ Rockers in its first New York theatrical showing in more than a decade. The festival wraps up on Monday, August 6—Jamaican Independence Day—with a free showing of One People, which is the nation’s official 50th Anniversary documentary, premiering simultaneously in Kingston and London. It’s produced by Justine Henzell, daughter of The Harder They Come filmmaker Perry Henzell.

The fest couldn’t have chosen a better movie to kick off with than Rockers (1978), the reggae-star-studded flick that stars the legendary drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace as the hard-working Rasta who eventually overcomes all downpressors and emerges as a ghetto Robin Hood. Rockers is stacked with classic cameos including producers Joe Gibbs and Jack Ruby, DJ Big Youth pon his killer ride, Gregory Isaacs as “Jah Tooth,” who swindles some tourists having car trouble, then takes the stage as the ultra dapper “Cool Ruler.”

And let’s not forget Burning Spear singing “Jah No Dead” acapella while burning some herbs to lift up Horsemouth’s spirit after his bike is thiefed.

As a special bonus, the 6:50pm showing will be followed by “Downtown Top Ranking in a BAMstyle,” a party at BAMcafe with Deadly Dragon Sound System and legendary DJ Ranking Joe on the mic.

The series features numerous other essential but rarely screened cinematic gems, including Babylon, (1980), a cult classic on sound systems in Britain starring Aswad’s Brinsley Forde; Land of Look Behind, a documentary about Jamaica’s Cockpit Country where descendants of the Maroons still run things (1980), the concert film Heartland Reggae (1980), “Word, Sound and Power” a documentary about the Soul Syndicate band (1980), and Dickie Jobson’s idyllic Countryman (1982). And yes, of course, The Harder They Come (1972) will be screening as well.

On Sunday, August 5, the 6:50pm showing of Roots Rock Reggae—a look inside the Jamaican music industry—will be followed by a Q&A with Clive Chin, Vincent Chin’s son, moderated by reggae man about town Carter Van Pelt. To whet your appetite, check this clip of Inner Circle jamming with the late great Jacob “Killer” Miller.

It’s not as complicated as navigating the CMJ Music Marathon, but one will need to analyze the schedule carefully to select films, days and showtimes. Luckily, when you go to the official BAM website, the choices and descriptions of each movie are so clearly described that they could only have been written up by a true reggae fan. Sure enough, if you dig into any business, company or organization deep enough, you’ll almost always discover the bonafide reggae head, aka the in-house reggae guy. In BAMcinematek’s case, we can thank Publicity Manager Gabriele Caroti, who infiltrated the power structure guided by his love & passion for Jamaican culture and Reggae Music, and brought this Flim Fest into being—perhaps the first “proper” film series of its kind in New York.

The Festival exclusively focuses on vintage films, essentially the ’70s and early ’80s, with some documentaries featuring archival performances going back to the early 60’s. “I’ve tried to dig pretty deep, but have kept it very focused,” Caroti explained. “We’re screening Jeremy Marre’s legendary Roots Rock Reggae, the epic Deep Roots Music, and rarities, including Horace Ove’s Reggae, possibly the first ever film about the music documenting the UK scene and a reggae concert at Wembley in 1970 featuring Toots, the Pioneers, John Holt, Desmond Dekker and others.

BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave, Brookyn, NY 11217. Tickets are $12 for General Admission, $7 for BAM Cinema Club Members, $9 for Students under 29 and Seniors (w/ valid ID Mon-Thurs).