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Journey to Jah

A portrait of European reggae migrants Gentleman and Alborosie and their quest for spiritual development is juxtaposed with the harsh realities in Jamaica and discussions about Rastafarianism and dancehall culture in that country.


A German, Tillman Otto alias Gentleman, and an Italian, Alberto d'Ascola alias Alborosie, are two of the world’s most successful reggae and dancehall artists. Their concerts in Europe attract more concertgoers than most Jamaican acts, and they have also received wide acclaim in the Caribbean. JOURNEY TO JAH is less a documentary about the two musicians than it is an introduction to Jamaican discussions about the Rastafarian religion, its anti-colonialism, its dogmatic contradictions, and the role of reggae and dancehall culture for a Jamaican identity. Particularly impressive are the feminist professor Carolyn Cooper, the pragmatic producer and singer Jack Radics, and the rapper Terry Lynn, who hails from the Kingston ghetto Waterhouse. In contrast to the less spiritual and more aggressive music produced by Jamaican artists such as Lynn, the European reggae migrants stay close to the more traditional and spiritual roots of reggae à la Bob Marley or Bunny Wailer. A Jamaican radio DJ asks Gentleman in an interview whether his spirituality is connected to his upbringing as the son of a pastor. This is an interesting reversal of the European perspective, since Gentleman and Alborosie see their journey as transcending the borders of European thought and finding a new spiritual home that matches their individual notions of peace and freedom. As Tilmann Otto says in the film, ”Freedom begins when longing becomes stronger than reason.” Terry Lynn is more pragmatic: “As long as we live, we are never fully free. You have to pay your bills, pay taxes. (…) What then does freedom mean? Once you have liberated yourself from one thing, the next thing comes along. Only life is for free.”

Tom Dorow

Translation: Carla McDougall


D/CH/JA 2013, 95 min
Genre: Documentary, Music Films
Director: Noel Dernesch, Moritz Springer
Author: Noel Dernesch, Moritz Springer
Distributor: Zorro Filmverleih
Release: 20.03.2014




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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