Rastafari Then and Now: A Message From Jamaica

Rastafari Then and Now: A Message From Jamaica
Filmed in Toronto and Jamaica, this DVD is part history lesson and part personal journey, as Toronto youth worker and Nyabinghi drummer Nation Cheong seeks a deeper knowledge of Rastafari, putting his faith into action as he introduces a new generation to the tenets of the faith. Interviews with elders from the 12 Tribes, Bobo Ashanti and Nyabinghi traditions are presented alongside insight from noted scholar Barry Chevannes, Ethiopian Orthodox clergy and footage from Binghi ceremonies, both in Spanish Town, Jamaica and Toronto. But it is the personal touch given by Cheong's community work in Toronto that sets this doc apart from other expositions of Rastafari. This also is where the film remains largely unrealized. Promising to show how Rasta ideologies of peace and love (themselves subjective and problematic concepts that are taken at face value and never contextualized within the movement) can help change a culture of youth violence, the film fails to show how this can be achieved. Still, Rastafari is a solid and informative, if largely uncritical, primer in the beliefs and rituals of a religion whose public representation is often mired in stereotypes. (Scarlet Media)