Documentaries / Films

  • Musically Mad (2011)

Directed By: Karl Kolke

With: Iration Steppas, Ironworks Dread, Russ Disciples, Channel One, Aba Shanti, Ras Muffet, Mad Professor…

Language: English
Subtitles: French

Possibly one of the best and most complete documentaries on the UK sound system scene. It explores the love for the medium, what it is that makes each sound system different, how the vibes are created, through personal stories of the operators, singers, producers, box-builders and engineers at the heart of the scene.  What it shows particularly well is the drive that links all these people, the love of bass, of feeling and sharing their music: something that cannot be explained through words. As Russ D said, the vibes and feelings that one experiences in the sound system session are hard to explain to other people, without dragging them through the scruff of the neck and dragging them in front of a stack of speakers. Well, musically mad gets pretty close.

  • Dub Echoes (2010)

Directed By: Bruno Natal

With: King Jammy, Lee Perry, Sly Dunbar, U Roy, Kode 9, Roots Manuva, Mad Professor, Don Letts, Congo Natty…

Language: English

Dub Echoes provides an in-depth exploration of dub, how it came about, how it grew in Jamaica, and more importantly how it spread over to the UK and Europe and influenced most of modern electronic and dance music.

  • Get up Stand Up – L’Histoire Du Reggae (1995)

Directed By: Bruno Blum / Jean Francois Bizot

With: Bunny Lee, Chris Blackwell…

Language: French/English
Subtitles: French

This documentary focuses on the roots and musical history of reggae but also explores the religious and political past and present of the Jamaican Island.
Documentaire retraçant les racines et l’histoire musicale du reggae, en passant par le Mento, le Ska, le Rhythm and Blues, le Rocksteady; mais aussi l’histoire religieuse et politique de la Jamaique.

  • Dub Stories – L’histoire Du Dub Racontée Par Ses Activistes (2006)

Directed By: Nathalie Valet

With: High Tone, Iration Steppas, Zenzile, Zion Train, Manutension, Brain Damage, Russ Disciple, Dougie Conscious….

Languages: French/ English
Subtitles: French

The documentary explores the different periods in the development and expansion of dub and sound system culture. Featuring the main actors of the French and UK dub scene –it shows how dub persisted, how it influenced these different crews, in different countries, and through different mediums – from sound systems to live stages.
Ce documentaire explore les différents mouvements dans le développement et l’expansion du dub et de la culture sound system. En rencontrant les acteurs principaux de la scène UK et Européenne, on est emmené à voir comment et pourquoi le dub persiste, ainsi que son influence sur différents groupes et musiciens en Angleterre, en France et en Hollande.

  • Ichiban – Reggae Japan (2009)

Directed By: R. Ross

Language: English/Japanese
Subtitles: English

With: Black Assassin, Mighty Crown,

Dive in to the growing Japanese Dancehall and Sound System Scene. Find out how these crews discovered Jamaican dancehall and reggae culture, and how they brought it over and adapted it, eventually making Japan one of the leading dancehall hubs.

  • Rock and the City: Kingston (2008)

ARTE Documentary

Language: English/ French
Subtitles: French

Episode of the ARTE series “cities and their music” devoted to Kingston, the capital of Reggae
Episode de la série d’ARTE sur les villes et leurs musique consacré à Kingston, la capital du Reggae.

  • Rocksteady – The Roots of Reggae (2009)

BBC Film

Directed By: Stascha Bader

With: Stranger Cole, Ken Booth, Derrick Morgan, Dawn Penn…

Language: English

Stranger Cole tells us the history of Rock Steady, bringing in many other legendary artists together for a Rocksteady reunion, where they gathered together to record an album and tell their stories.

  • Reggae: The story of Jamaican Music (2002)

BBC documentary

Directed By: Mike Connoly

Language: English

With: Derrick Morgan, Prince Buster, Count Suckle, Rita Marley, Ernest Ranglin, Jazzy B…

  • Superstonic Sound: the Rebel Dread (2010)

Directed By: Raphael Erichsen & Edward Dallal

Language: English
Subtitles: Portuguese

With: Don Letts

The film follows Don Letts who takes us through the history of London’s key musical and political hot spots, both past and present. He shares his love of music and bass, his role in connecting reggae and punk, dubstep and hip-hop; and reflects on his relationship with the city, the music and the various struggles of being first generation british born black in the 70s and 80s.

  • Natural Mystic Reggae (2006)

Directed By: David Commeillas

Language: English

With: Kiddus I, Earl ‘China’ Smith, Chezidek, Natty King

This documentary explores Bob Marley’s legacy, the state of today’s Jamaica and Reggae industry and the new Rasta generation, from the streets of Trenchtown, through the mountains in the heart of the island, to the South of France.

  • Beats of the Heart – Roots Rock Reggae (1977)

Director: Jeremy Marre

With: the Abyssinians, Dennis Brown, Jimmy cliff, U Roy, Jacob Miller, Joe Higgs

Language: English

One of the earlierst documentaries on reggae in Jamaica, filmed during the high point of roots and dub. Includes great footage of Lee Perry in the Black Ark Studio, JImmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals. But it also shows the tight links between the music and politics in the newly independent island, as well as the growing influence of Rastarianism on the ghettos and musicians.

  • There’s nothing like a sound system (2013)

Directed By: Bartosz Madeski

Language: English

With: Mungo’s HiFi, YT, Soom T, Samson Sounds, CC Sound, Bass Alliance Sound System

Short documentary film exploring the growing sound system scene in Glasgow.

  • Pull It Up – An Italian Story (2012)

Directed By: Giovanni De Gaetano

Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

With: Lampa Dread, SUD Sound System, Godzilla Sound, Bass Fi Mass, DJ War…

The first documentary on the (huge) Italian sound system scene. Through interviews with some of the first Italian reggae activists and sound systems, it explores how the scene and culture developed – through its link with hip-hop and rap as well as radical and alternative politics – and its role in creating alternative spaces. It also shows how many crews understood and appropriated the medium of the sound system in order to adapt it to local issues and struggles, by infusing it with traditional dialects and music.

  • In Session With King Shiloh (2014)

Directed By: Matthijs Diederiks

Language: English

This short film follows Bredda Neil and the King Shiloh crew during their preparation for the Amsterdam Sound System Weekender.

  • Heretik – We Had A Dream (2013)

Directed By: Damien Raclot-Dauliac

Language: French

Although not focused on reggae, this documentary looks back on the Heretik crew’s activism within the techno and free party scene. Possibly one of the most active french techno sound systems of the 90s, the film allows an insight in the crew’s politics, ideas and passion in organising the free parties – whether it be in the countryside or in the center of Paris.

“En Angleterre au début des années 90, le Criminal Justice Bill de Margaret Thatcher interdit les rassemblements autour des musiques électroniques, les “rave party”. Les aficionados les plus engagés, quittent le pays pour continuer à vivre leur passion. Parmi eux, la mythique “Spiral Tribe” commence à sillonner l’Europe. A partir de son modèle, des groupes se forment en France, République Tchèque, Italie (autres pays) et créent un nouveau moyen d’expression. La “Free Party”, une fête libre, illégale, alternative, qui réunit un public marginal et libertaire.

En France, les fêtes libres sont inconnues du grand public. Quelques centaines, voire un ou deux milliers de participants profitent de ces zones d’autonomie temporaires (cf. Hakim Bey, TAZ / Zone Autonome Temporaire) importées par les travellers anglais. Dans le même temps, l’Etat français, suivant le modèle anglais, réprime les soirées techno légales, et pousse les “raveurs” à la clandestinité. Beaucoup d’entre eux viennent gonfler les rangs du tout nouveau mouvement des “Free Parties”. Quelques années après l’arrivée des anglais, un collectif français fait ses premières armes. Les “Heretik” se définissent comme “ne souscrivant pas à la doctrine établie”.
(Mr Bonus)

  • Alpha Blondy, Un Combat Pour La Liberté (2010)

Directed By: Antoinette DELAFIN et Dramane CISSE

Language: French

  •  Coping With Babylon – the proper rastology (2007)

Directed By: Oliver Hill

Language: English

With: Matubarak, Luciano, Half Pint, Prince Emanuel…

Coping With Babylon looks at the present state of the world as perceived by some of the most outspoken members of the Rastafarian movement, both in Jamaica and New York.

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