Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, Life and Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences all focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas.
By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.
The film opens with the arrival of vacationers to the island– utilizing Ms. Kincaids text as voice-over, we begin to understand the profound contrasts behind the breathtaking natural beauty of the island. The poetic urgency of Ms. Kincaids text lends a first-person understanding of the legacy of the country’s colonial past, and to it’s present day economic challenges.
As we begin to understand the post-colonial landscape outlined in Ms. Kincaids text, we cut to archival footage of Former Prime Minister Michael Manley in a post-independence speech condemning the IMF stating that “the Jamaican government will not accept anybody, anywhere in the world telling us what to do in our own country. Above all, we’re not for sale.”