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Inna de Yard — reggae ‘elders’ have their day in the sun

Peter Webber’s film follows surviving Jamaican artists as they record an album

Nudged up against the mist-hung Blue Mountains, the Jamaican district of Saint Andrew looks paradisiacal, but the lesson of the documentary Inna de Yard is to listen. The parish has long been the home of the island’s music industry, local murals immortalising reggae icons from Peter Tosh and Burning Spear to, of course, Bob Marley.

Here, director Peter Webber spotlights instead surviving “elders” who may be less familiar to mainstream audiences despite their gifts. Structured around the recording of an acoustic album showcasing singers such as the pioneering Judy Mowatt, honeyed Ken Boothe and sprite-like Cedric Myton, the film doubles as a capsule history of Jamaican reggae, taking in the ska explosion of the 1960s, political unrest in the 1970s and the growth of an island music business — archive footage may blur in the memory with scenes from the cult classic street drama The Harder They Come.

In truth, Webber feels less interested in the wider narrative than he is in the microcosmic lives of his subjects, but there is untold drama in their stories, and the music is a cause for celebration.

Credit: Financial Times --

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