The charismatic Caribbean hero and Pan Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey is regarded globally as one of the world’s foremost 20th-century civil-rights leaders. Filmed in Jamaica, Ghana, Canada, USA, UK and Central America, this film about his life blends live-action and stunning photographs with no-holds-barred interviews and conversations with world-renowned leaders, scholars, and personalities. Multiple Emmy award-winning actor Keith David narrates, along with contributors including Louis Gossett Jr, Danny Glover and reggae artists Sean Paul and David Hinds.
Professor Gus John will chair a panel of distinguished historians and commentators after the screening, and we hope to also welcome director Roy T. Anderson.
The ‘Negro Moses’ arrived on the scene on 17 August 1887, in the tiny seaside town of St. Ann’s Bay on the northern coast of Jamaica, 53 years after slavery was abolished in that country. In his short life Marcus Mosiah Garvey, would go on to become the world’s foremost Pan-Africanist and, in some eyes, the greatest mass leader of the 20th century.
Influenced greatly by American educator Booker T. Washington, Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) and launched it fittingly on Emancipation Day, 1 August 1914, in Kingston, Jamaica. Garvey took his message of Black pride to the United States during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, arriving at a time of vacuum in Black leadership.
By the time he died in 1940, Garvey’s followers grew to more than four million with over 1,000 UNIA-ACL branches around the world. Even in death Garvey’s philosophy has impacted many social and political movements around the world.
Back in early 2015, Dr Julius Garvey, the youngest son of Marcus Garvey, reached out to me wanting to find out if I was interested in collaborating with him on a project about his famous father. I was extremely honoured, but honestly was not ready to take on such a huge undertaking, since I was wrapping up work on my second film about the Maroons of Jamaica. I told Dr Garvey that a film about his father would require one hundred percent effort on my part. As luck would have it, we did re-connect after my film was completed and we started to talk about the framework of a film on his father.
For all his greatness, Marcus Garvey has often been portrayed as a caricature, and someone marginalised by history. Foremost in our minds was telling a story of this oft-misunderstood man, in a way that was not only objective and balanced, but insightful and engaging. He may not be the most famous Jamaican (that title goes to iconic reggae singer Bob Marley). But who would have thought that this simple country boy, born almost 50 years after slavery was abolished in the British colonies, would go on to provide the most comprehensive blueprint for the liberation of his people.
Our film sheds light on the world’s foremost Pan-Africanist, and looks at the extraordinary achievements of a great man considered by many as the greatest mass leader of the 20th century, as expressed to us by noted scholars, public officials and lay persons. The story unfolds in places like the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, and the North American continent; mirroring Garvey’s travels where he observed the harsh and brutal working conditions of his people. It also takes place on the African continent, where sadly Garvey was not permitted by colonial officials to set foot. Our visual style for the film blends live action with breathtaking still photography, archival images and illustrations to provide a window into the life of a man rarely seen in contemporary culture. Garvey’s omniscient voice and oratory are the spine that holds these story elements together.
While continuing my day job as a movie stuntman, I was now engaged in another labour of love, eventually taking the lead in developing the film and driving it forward, with an aim towards completing a trilogy – documenting the resistance history of African-descended people in the Americas. These are stories not often told and I was proud to be the driver once again.
In its own unique way, this groundbreaking film also highlights Rastafari – a group greatly influenced by Garvey’s teaching – and engages other personalities whose lives have been touched in one way or another by him. The list includes individuals like award-winning American actors Louis Gossett, Jr and Danny Glover; Grammy Award-winning reggae singer, Sean Paul; White nationalist leader Jared Taylor; David Hinds, lead singer for the reggae group Steel Pulse; Charles Rangel, retired United States Congressman; and Julius Garvey, youngest son of Marcus Garvey.
I’m just so thankful to everyone who came together to make this film possible.
About the director
Roy T. Anderson is writer, director and producer of the award-winning films Akwantu: the Journey (2012), on the history of the Jamaican Maroons; and Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess (2015), his sophomore film which expands on the story of the New World’s first successful freedom fighters, by shedding light on one of the leading figures in that struggle – Nanny of the Maroons.
Roy is a veteran movie and television stuntman/stunt co-ordinator. During his stellar career he’s performed stunts for Hollywood stars like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, to name a few; accumulating more than 400 production credits in the process, working on such hits as Men in Black 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Spiderman 2, The Bourne Ultimatum, American Gangster, The Wolf of Wall Street; and top rated TV series Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, Elementary and Gotham. While continuing stunt work, Anderson aims to bring more under-represented stories to the cinematic landscape through his New Jersey-based production company, Action 4 Reel Filmworks.
THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF MARCUS GARVEY
Director/Producer/Writer: Roy T. Anderson
Producer/Narrator: Keith David
Producer: Alison G. Anderson
Co-producer: Natalie Thompson
Associate Producers: Dario Bigi, Rolando Gori, David Hinds, Osei Rubie
Director of Photography: Jahsen Levy
Composer: Rolando Gori
Paul H. Williams (Marcus Garvey)
Charl Baker (Amy Jacques Garvey)
Nardia Scott (Amy Ashwood)
Taje Arnold (Marcus Garvey 19-22)
Sekai Macauley (Marcus Garvey 13-18)
Shavar Haynes (Marcus Garvey Jr)
Zenith Picknight (Julius Garvey)
Vivian Crawford (Malcus Garvey)
Diane Prince (Sarah Garvey)
Seana’Kaye Wright (Indianna Garvey)
Bertina Macauley (Daisy White)
Seya Henzell (Marcus Garvey’s white playmate)
Edward Barbar (Alfred E. Burrowes)
In collaboration with KOL Social
IN PERSON & PREVIEWS
African Odysseys UK Premiere: African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey + panel discussion
Sat 5 Feb 14:00
Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI
Mon 7 Feb 18:10
Preview: The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske) + Q&A with director Joachim Trier and actor Renate Reinsve
Sat 12 Feb 20:15
The Proposition + Q&A (special guests TBA)
Wed 16 Feb 18:00
Preview: La Mif (The Fam) + Q&A with director Fred Baillif
Sat 19 Feb 18:00
A Tribute to Roger Michell: Preview: The Duke + Q&A (guests TBA)
Thu 24 Feb 18:00
BFI Expanded: World Premiere: UNIQUE
Fri 25 Feb 19:00 and 20:30
Woman with a Movie Camera Preview: Ali & Ava
Mon 28 Feb 20:20
Silent Cinema: The Hill Park Mystery (Nedbrudte Nerver) + intro
Sun 6 Feb 15:30
Projecting the Archive: Jury’s Evidence + intro by writer Ming Ho
Tue 8 Feb 18:30
BFI Future Film Festival
Seniors’ Free Matinee: The Night of the Hunter + intro by BFI programmer David Somerset
Mon 21 Feb 14:00
Member Picks: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Wed 23 Feb 17:50
Terror Vision: The People under the Stairs
Thu 24 Feb 20:40
Relaxed Screening: Keep the Change + discussion
Mon 28 Feb 20:10
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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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