The spirit of Bob Marley imbues Africa Unite
, a documentary-cum-concert recorded in 2005, the year of what would have been the late reggae pioneer's 60th birthday. Yet it was more than Marley's music (represented here by versions of classics like "Get Up, Stand Up," "Natty Dread,""Burnin' and Lootin'," and "I Shot the Sheriff," variously performed by widow Rita and sons Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Damian, and Ky-Mani, along with a few vintage clips of Marley himself in action) that drew thousands of Africans and others to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a week of music, symposiums, and other events. More than any other genre-defining artist of the pop music era--more even than Bob Dylan, who neither sought nor was comfortable with the "voice of a generation" tag--Bob Marley's work contained an overt political element, and it is his message of resistance to oppression and the necessity for people to work together to enact change that galvanizes director Stephanie Black's film. And while Marley, a Jamaican, never actually performed in Ethiopia, the choice of that country (referred to as "the genesis of mankind") as a location makes perfect sense, as it was ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie, whom Marley and other Rastafarians regarded as God incarnate. Selassie, also known as the Lion of Judah, Ras Tafari, or Jah Rastafari, is invoked often; his granddaughter is on hand to welcome visitors (who also include Marley's mother, Cedella Booker, and actor Danny Glover). In juxtaposing old news footage from Africa's colonial past with new material in which participants discuss the vital importance of African self-sufficiency, Africa Unite
offers a well-balanced and informative perspective on an important and interesting subject. The music's pretty darn good, too. --Sam Graham
AFRICA UNITE is a singular and masterfully executed film that is at once concert tribute, Marley family travelogue, and humanitarian documentary, igniting the screen with the spirit of world renowned reggae icon BOB MARLEY in its every frame. In commemoration of Bobs 60th birthday, Africa Unite is centered on the Marleys first time ever family trip to Ethiopia in 2005. Includes rare archival footage of world renowned reggae icon Bob Marley. There in the capital city of Addis Ababa three generations of Marleys take part in a 12 hour concert like no other, attended by more than 300,000 people from around the world, with the ultimate purpose of inspiring the young generations of Africa to unite for the future of their continent. Features exuberant on stage spots as well as a soundtrack brimming with Bob Marley studio classics. Includes appearances by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, actor Danny Glover, world music sensation Angelique Kidjo, Bob Marleys mother Mrs. Booker, and Princess Mary, granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie. Produced and directed by Stephanie Black, Life & Debt; H 2 Worker, Associate Produced by Ras Bobby Morgan, and Executive Produced by Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Danny Glover, and Joslyn Barnes.