Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica

Like The Souvenir, Peter Webber’s best-known film was based on a painting – Vermeer’s The Girl With A Pearl Earring. His latest is inspired by music, specifically the reggae of Jamaica, which he revisits for the poignant documentary Inna De Yard.

Webber gets a band together to pay homage to the music’s roots, original and acoustic. He rounds up quite the crew, including vocalist Ken Boothe (he of Everything I Own), The Congos singer Cedric Myton, Rockers star Kiddus I and Winston McAnuff. Through them, we get the history of the island and this music’s rich cultural heritage, which a historian likens to its gold, or its oil.

Heavy with marijuana smoke, these old-time legends reminisce and play. Their memories are not always pleasant – stories are of exploitation, hardship, thievery, death, drugs raps, violence and the hard-scrabble existence of fishing and farming.

All the while, Jamaica’s green lushness shines through, Webber’s camera caressing the jungle and bouncing to the beat.

Perhaps he gets a little lost in the fug of smoke. The film meanders like the river to a waterfall, although it does have a guiding structure set around the recording of an album and an eventual live gig in Paris.

But it’s a charming work, full of delicious poetry and humour, wonderful faces and characters, and righteous with pride in the music and their own stories.

You can hear Peter Webber and me with my co-host Nick Callow talking about Inna De Yard on our Sports Club Classics show on Totally Wired Radio here.