Digital reggae film archive to be established at National Library of Jamaica

Diaspora vital to creative development, says Jamaica’s Culture Minister
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Jamaica’s Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange has announced a digital Reggae Film Archive will be established in an effort to preserve the island’s cultural heritage and reggae history on film.

Grange, who made the announcement at the   screening of the film  –  ‘Legends of Ska’ said “The film side of reggae doesn’t get mentioned that often and this is mainly due to the fact there is very little early footage which is easily accessible of the founding reggae musicians.  Most of the footage that does exist is scattered across the globe in archives and private collections and is often difficult and costly to access,” Grange said.

“A music as important as reggae needs to have its film history documented and preserved for future generations so that they can appreciate and have a good understanding of the music and the people who created it.”

Grange also said several reggae legends have never been seen on film. “Some people will know their music but will only ever see photos of the artist, so to have moving images of them at work is of great importance.”

The Culture Minister explained the database will be an innovation that will preserve the hundreds of documentaries, feature films and videos to enable study and research, as well as viewing of films that record Jamaica’s reggae music history.  

More than 200 films collected during the staging of the Reggae Film Festival between 2008 and 2013 will be donated by film festival organizer Barbara Blake-Hannah to begin the database, which will be added to by films from Reggae Films UK archivist, Peter Gittins.

Grange said it was her intention that “one day people will be able to come into the National Library of Jamaica and type in the name of any reggae practitioner and be able to view a long list of all the films that exist of that particular artist/musician to learn from, to teach about and to spread Jamaica’s musical gift to the world.”

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