Ghettalife *** 3/5

Riverside Studios,

Hammersmith, London W6

13th September 2012 

Ghettalife is a well told Jamaican story about the struggles of determined, aspiring, teenage Boxer Derrick , played by Kevoy Burton, as he looks to carve out a boxing career that will ultimately result in him proudly representing his country Jamaica.

Not only does Derrick have to navigate sparring and training, the movies main dramatic tension stems from the slowly rising tension as the viewer anticipates destructive and violent consequences as a result of his interaction with the youths he’s training with. Many of them detest him simply for being from the wrong part of town. Just training at the gym in itself is a big enough problem for political and geographical reasons. It’s a little  reminiscent of London’s post code wars affecting teenagers in certain areas of the capital.  

As the two areas don’t mix for political reasons, the results are divided sporting, family and political loyalties to contend with as his prominent father represents the opposing  political party to that running the area which encompasses the Boxing gym.

The movie dramatically and excitingly portrays the daring risks this young man is taking as his actions stir the garrison town divide in Jamaica and seriously upsets Sin, one of the local  Don’s, who with his henchmen make violently and graphically clear their displeasure.

Whilst applauding Derrick’s desire of better himself and be non-partisan I found his attitude very selfish and naive in the extreme, for it not only put his life at risk, but also that of his mother, father and friends.  It reminds me of  Prince Harry who just last week returned to battle in Kabul, Afghanistan. He’s following what he’s  trained to do, yet putting his colleague’s life at risk as his well reported return has made his and US troops a  bigger  target now for insurgents.   On the day I write this, 15th  August 2012, the death of  two US soldiers was announced.

The movie’s no Rocky when it comes to the boxing scenes, but it certainly packs a dramatic and exciting punch as we watch the drama unfold both in and outside of the boxing ring, with  fights, threats and violence, plus a little romance and humour thrown in to the entertaining mix too.

The single minded focus shown by Derrick reminded me of the attitude adopt ed by the elite Olympians and Paralympians this Summer who delivered outstanding medal winning performances, that will have doubtless inspired so many watching to go and do better in whatever they do, be it sport or otherwise.                     

It was nice to see a cameo from former World Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis, who also happened to be Associate Producer of this movie.

There was a warmth to the movie which I enjoyed and an underlying message of the futility of gang warfare that exists in big cities not just in Jamaica but across the world.

Ghettalife was promoted by Kushfilms who have been promoting and screening Black movies since 1998. The next screenings of this film are scheduled for Bristol and Birmingham in November 2012.  Unfortunately the movie received only a very brief, limited UK cinema release (2011) hence the ad hoc screenings that Kush have been promoting this Summer in Tottenham, Peckham and Hammersmith. If you wish to see more Black movies then the attendance at screenings of the movie going public is required to demonstrate the popularity and create a momentum and demand for wider film distribution of Black films.

Ghettalife trailer

Tiemo Talk of the Town

15thSeptember 2012

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8 Responses to Ghettalife

  1. Dale says:

    This was a powerful movie that potrays with chilling accuracy the realities of life in the downtown ghettoes of Kingston where brutal men “aka” dons have taken advantage of the poverty, lack of education and blind, even stupid commitment to the two main parties, where corrupt politicians give little back to the communities that placed them in office. Sad truth is that the minisister could have been the PM as she has represented a similar garrison constituency for decades!!

    I believe Lennox Lewis funded the movie. It was produced by a true Yardie who understands the runnings! There was a message of hope that the youth can use sport to challenge and change the status quo. People unite behind the flag and that those that live by the gun will one day die the same way. The lack of positive and meaningful action by security services is also sad but partially true! 8/10

  2. Tiemo Talk says:

    Thank you for the interesting and knowledgable response Dale. Yes, on reflection there was a positive message of hope that can be read into the film. It’s a very brave and courageous man who try’s to take on a Don!

  3. Desmond. says:

    I too went to see the film and I must say what the film lacked in quality in terms of production and editing it certainly made up for in terms of entertainment and proving to be an enjoyable watch.

    For me the backdrop to the main storyline i.e. Derrick and the boxing, was the political warfare that exists in Jamaica (something I was unfamiliar with) along with gang mentality and desire for ‘power’ and the brutal extremes some go to just to ‘cling on’. Indeed the geographical divides that exist are too sadly replicated around the world in brutality, harm and death. So while we here in the UK search for answers as to how to end this madness, maybe in context, it’s not as bad as we may fear?

    For me I don’t believe Derricks actions were selfish, naive maybe, but then he is only a young man, but a young man with a dream and aspirations far bigger and greater than the ‘turf war’ that he too had to contend with. He wanted a better life for himself, for his family and he also wanted a way out. Let’s not forget he also wanted to represent his nation, Jamaica, so surely that is something worth fighting for? It is the shallow minds and greed of others that tried to prevent him from even attempting to aspire. How many other young hopes have been suppressed because of this?

    One wonders, with the backdrop of the Olympics and the success of the Jamaican track team, if any of them had to endure such struggles? Where would they be if others told them no, just because they come from another part of town or have another political affiliation? One also wonders what other opportunities lay for the likes of Derrick if they just succumb to the greed and oppression of others.

    Change comes about when the few are brave enough to stand up and be counted and dare to dream for something else, something more, something better. It is their bravery that inspires others that change is possible and there is another way. “Can we do it, Yes we can”!

  4. Tiemo Talk says:

    Thanks Desmond. I agree with the points you are making. It is necessary to stand up and be counted. To be brave enough to go it alone when no other option exists. Easier said than done and it’s why I had my reservations about supporting such an approach with this movie. I was afraid for the likely consequences as they impact on others close to Derrick who hadn’t chosen to follow the brave path he was on and worse, initially, were completely unaware of this.

    Aside from the violence of course, I do love the passion for politics that exists in certain Caribbean Islands, such as Jamaica and St Vincent. That was conveyed in the film. We could do with some more of that in this country and of course in the USA. With the presidential election vote 2 weeks today (6 Nov 2012) and the polls showing President Obama and Governor Romney neck and neck with 47% each of the votes, it will be vital that all Americans interested in the outcome go out and vote.

  5. Tiemo Talk says:

    Forthcoming screenings

    Friday 27th October (7.30pm)
    Tkts: £5

    The Drum, 144 Potters Lane, Newtown, Birmingham B6 4UU
    Tel: 0121 333 2444

    Sunday 4th November (4.00pm),
    BRISTOL CITY CENTRE, WATERSHED, 1 Canon’s Road, Bristol, Avon BS1 5TX – 0117 927 5100

    For further info please Contact venues.
    Kush Promotions:
    Tel: 07961 977 749 / 0203 070 3200
    Facebook Fan Page

    YouTube Trailer

  6. Ghett A Life – Last Screening in South London

    One of the last Screening of da exciting action-drama Ghett A Life will be this week Thurs 8th Nov (8.30pm / $4.99) @ the Peckhamplex Cinema, 95a Rye Lane, London, SE15 4ST, 0844 567 2742, – Don’t miss this last chance to finally see Ghett A Life if you have not seen it or if you have, bring along some friends who haven’t & watch all over again – you know this film can be watched again. Info: or 07961 977 749.
    Director Chris Brownie talks about directing the popular Ghett A Life film – the exciting Jamaican film with a moral message for all – Follow Your Dreams & Never Let Anyone One stop You From Achieving Your Goals in Life:

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