For some people, music isn’t just a pastime, hobby or a nice thing to listen to: it’s a way of life. This is precisely what Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica is trying to convey. Part documentary, part social commentary and part live music video, Inna De Yard is a wonderful look at some of the most iconic and influential voices of reggae music. We all have heard of Bob Marley, but this film focuses on artists that some people might find extremely familiar, but a casual reggae listener like myself, had mostly never heard of. I’m delighted that I became more exposed to this world.
Inna De Yard means in the backyard, which is basically the film’s setting. The film is set on a simple porch overlooking a beautiful Jamaican landscape where the legends of reggae, like Ken Boothe, Kiddus I, and Winston McAnuff, are about to converge with a younger generation of voices to record a live album of some of the most influential songs in the country’s history. A windy porch doesn’t seem like the best place to record a live acoustic album, but the point is to capture not just the songs, but also the sound of Jamaica and its soul, if you will. As the audience is listening to these pieces being performed, we get to know each of the singers and musicians better, and the film cuts to how their careers were shaped and what their lives look like today. It’s truly a fascinating and unique piece of filmmaking that I can only describe as utterly vibrant.
The director of this film, Peter Webber (director of Girl with a Pearl Earring), is a huge reggae fan. He describes being heavily influenced by reggae music as a teenager and feeling privileged to be able to be a part of capturing some of its history with his film. He states: “the excitement of meeting these musicians, hearing stories of the early days when the scene was in its infancy, how they survived the lean years that followed, and how they re-emerged in recent years, was very inspiring.” This was a deeply personal project for Webber, and it comes through in his delicate filmmaking. His fly-on-the-wall approach is respectful, while also capturing the heart and soul of his subjects. Not all legends live forever, but with this film Webber is trying to preserve the memories, stories and music that changed culture, shaped lives and can ultimately live on for eternity.