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Grace Jones' Bloodlight and Bami: A tale of abuse and triumph

Published:Friday | February 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Actress Shantol Jackson (left) seizes the moment to have her photo taken with the iconic Grace Jones at the premiere of Grace Jones Bloodlight and Bami at Carib 5 Theatre in Kingston on January 27.
Grace Jones makes an appearance while fans view her film at Carib 5 Theatre in Kingston on January 27, 2018.

Grace Jones, Bloodlight and Bami, tells a compelling story: Maas P, a devout Pentecostal Christian, did not believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the child. He disciplined his step-grandchildren with Bible and rod, simultaneously. Grace Jones, her siblings, and at times their biological grandmother, were the recipients of this strident dose of discipline, until the children migrated to the USA, to join their parents. Grace was 12 at the time.

Subsequently, Grace, the girl from Spanish Town, grew to become a successful actress, model and singer. However, her traumatic childhood stayed with her. She exorcised her past in provocative, evocative and eccentric costumes and song lyrics.

While in business dealings and relationships she became assertive and demanding. Shot during a Jones family reunion, the film is an autobiography documentary, directed and edited by Sophie Fiennes. It premiered on Saturday at the Carib 5 Cinema, Cross Roads, St Andrew. The themes, message and creativity were not lost on those in attendance. Voice of a Woman organised the premiere as the launch of their new film festival. The focus is on violence against children and women.

For Carolyn Cooper, the film was "absolutely superb."

"When you see the cinematography, it draws you in, and the narrative is absolutely brilliant. You get the sense of power, of somebody who has come a long way. She has to fight but she is at the top of her game."

Jones' live performance of songs such as her autobiography Williams Bloods, the summation of her struggle Amazing Grace, and the popular Pull up the Bumper are timely interspersed with monologues and dialogues. It is pervaded with some risque language, and generates laughter and suspense.

Abject poverty, captured in a visit to neighbour Miss Myrtle, the children's saviour from their floggings, is effectively juxtaposed with the lush green vegetation of Jamaica's landscape, and wide rolling streets of Paris.