Journey to Jah

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Journey to Jah

Directed by Noel Dernesch, Moritz Springer

  • Germany, Switzerland 2013; 92 min
  • Original version: German, English
  • Genre: Documentary
    • Audience Award - Zurich IFF


The documentary film JOURNEY TO JAH is a tale of the seeking and finding of a spiritual home in a foreign culture, one that follows people who are connected by one thing: music. The two directors Noël Dernesch and Moritz Springer, as well as cameraman Marcus Winterbauer (“Rhythm is it“), spent seven years shadowing two unique reggae artists ‒ the German GENTLEMAN and Italian ALBOROSIE ‒ on their search for authenticity away from western consumerist societies in the land of Rastafari and reggae: JAMAICA. People they meet along the way include RICHIE STEPHENS, DAMIAN MARLEY and also NATTY ‒ driver and friend of Gentleman, who offers them an uncluttered look into the daily struggle for survival, far removed from the picture-book image of the Caribbean island. Professor CAROLYN COOPER provides a contrasting intellectual insight into Jamaican politics and culture, while reggae stalwart JACK RADICS reveals some astonishing truths. Finally, Dernesch and Springer run across upcoming Jamaican singer TERRY LYNN and follow her everyday life walking the streets of the ghettos of Kingston and also inside Berlin’s club scene. Together with the protagonists we delve into a world where music is used as an outlet to confront poverty, criminality and a lack of prospects, but also one that is characterized by a deep and uplifting spiritual bond. A world about which Alborosie says, “God lives here. But Satan too.“ Welcome aboard the JOURNEY TO JAH! JOURNEY TO JAH is a German-Swiss co-production from PORT AU PRINCE FILM & KULTUR PRODUKTION and PIXIU FILMS in cooperation with Karol Martesko-Fenster of THOUGHT ENGINE.

Director's Statement

Reggae has had a strong presence in the European music scene for generations. It stands for One Love & Unity, which is at once a political statement and a spiritual promise of salvation, meaning reggae has had number one selling albums here in Europe. The message of reggae is in its origin radically political. It stands for freedom and the hope of a better world. We all know that desire for freedom, rebellion and self-empowerment. That feeling of wanting to break free from your own world and to give in to the fascination and curiosity of discovering foreign worlds. Gentleman and Alborosie ultimately surrendered to the desire for freedom and spirituality. Both of them embody to varying degrees the elements that flow together in reggae ‒ rebellion, music and spirituality. The reality in Jamaica, however, is a different one. A system of values from the Old Testament and the problems of a third-world country collide with the liberal world views of the likes of Gentleman and Alborosie. It is the struggle with the deeper questions in life that gives us food for thought and the motivation to consider what is seemingly immutable. Rastafari is much more than a belief; it is a party, a spiritual path and dogmatic pitfall, a holiday flirtation and excuse for discriminatory, racist excesses, it is politics and commerce. In JOURNEY TO JAH, we accompany the two European musicians on their search for a new home in a politically torn country. We take a look with them behind the façade of Jamaica as a dream holiday destination in the Caribbean and delve deep into a world full of magic and contradictions. In doing so, we were mainly interested in those universal questions that concern us all. What is the meaning of freedom today in an ever more complex and closely monitored society? Where do we look for a sense of purpose and stability in life? What do we rebel against today? How do Europeans deal with the conflicts they encounter in Jamaican society? Are they ready, as foreigners, to work with Jamaicans towards changes that benefit society as a whole? What freedoms do they enjoy through being foreigners? JOURNEY TO JAH isn’t your average reggae feel-good movie, but rather one that doesn’t shy away from looking at today's burning issues. ”Paradise perhaps isn’t a place“, Gentleman once said, “but rather an inner state of being.“ - Noël Drenesch & Moritz Springer 2013.




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