COPING WITH BABYLON (Oliver Hill) Rating: NNNN
"Babylon" is the most loaded word in reggae. The oft-referenced Biblical city's name is steeped in meanings about luxury, corruption and Western capitalism, which values industry over humanity.
As reggae grows more commercial, many Rastafarians are mourning the loss of their music's soul. In a series of interviews with a wide range of artists, scholars and visionaries, director Oliver Hill uses the concept of Babylon as a springboard for an exploration of the cultural evolution of reggae and of ideas about spirituality and secularism in Jamaica.
Among others, Beenie Man, Mutabaruka, Beres Hammond, U of the West Indies professor Barry Chevannes and Elephant Man (who says Jamaicans cope with Babylon by being jiggy) provide fascinating perspectives on music, naturalism and ganja. But the heart of this doc is the story of Floyd Higgins, an American expat (and ex-con) who moved to Kingston to become a born-again Rastafari at the Mt. Zion Hill School of Vision. (August 5 as part of Island Soul, Harbourfront Centre)