Reggae star Jimmy Cliff stars in this unforgettable film that introduced the effervescent, uplifting music to the West and became a cult hit on release, only gaining stature as the years have worn on. One of the most important films ever made in Jamaica, this crime drama follows the travails of small-time hustler Ivanhoe “Ivan” Martin (Cliff), a rural man trying to make it big in Kingston despite his humble upbringing. Falling into the circles of back-alley preachers, shifty record producers, scheming drug dealers, and assorted hangers-on, Ivan descends into a celebrity-fueled psychosis of sorts, which the film posits as an outgrowth of his obsession with popular culture, particularly the legendary Spaghetti Western Django. A portrait of both a nation on the brink and a man in search of life’s meaning in the modern age—who ultimately becomes a folk hero—The Harder They Come remains an effervescent, catchy trip through Jamaican musical culture. New restoration!
Part of the 37th Annual Reel Music Festival.