Looking beyond the myths, Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald takes fans through an appreciation of the work and the man that was reggae legend Bob Marley. The documentary, Marley, is scheduled for release in September - 30 years after the icon's death.
Marley will focus on the music and worldwide impact of the cultural icon and was shot locally, in Ghana, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Marley will be Macdonald's first documentary on a musician.
The Scottish director is no lightweight in the film industry and is known for films such as One Day in September,
which won an Oscar for Best Documentary; Touching the Void, which won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards; and The Last King of Scotland, which also received a BAFTA Award for Best British Film, and the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Film.
Legendary director Martin Scorsese was originally supposed to direct, but had to drop out in May 2009 due to scheduling conflicts.
The project was then taken over by Oscar winner Jonathan Demme, who also left the film in August 2009. Macdonald was contacted by producer Steve Bing and felt up to the task of taking on one of the most well-loved figures in music across the globe.
He told The Sunday Gleaner: "I don't think a really good documentary done on him (Marley) has been done before. There are a lot of films made, but none were really, really good. Plus Marley had a fascinating life so I wanted to take a fresh, new look at the art. His music we hear all the time at the bus stations, in the supermarket around the world, to the point where it almost becomes invisible. We forget the mark his music has made right around the world. So I want to look at where the songs came from, what was the inspiration and build an appreciation for the art."
Since signing on to the film, Macdonald has worked closely with the Marley family which, he said, has been throwing its full support into the film.
"They've been supportive, they don't have any control over the film, they have left it very open to interpretation. What's surprising is that they are not afraid to be very open about their father, even to the point of being critical of him," he said.
Macdonald has been to Jamaica twice thus far, once in February and just last week. He has not only interviewed the family members, but persons like Bob Andy, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Neville Garrick, Desi Smith and, as he said, "pretty much everyone".
According to Macdonald, there will be songs that even the most die-hard Marley fans have not heard, as well as interviews from persons who have never spoken about the singer before. One such interview is with Marley's sister on his father's side, Constance Marley, who he interviewed in Florida.
What he finds interesting, he told The Sunday Gleaner, is to look at the unique appeal that Marley has in the world even 30 years after he has passed on.
An appeal, he believes, has not been achieved by any other musician. Importantly, the director will not only be focusing on Marley, but also the band and people that helped him conquer the world - the Wailers, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh.
"I've learnt a lot that has surprised me since starting this project. The thing that struck me the most is that people think of Bob as a natural-born genius, when he was actually first part of a band, a lot of which was a group working together. Also that Bob had a strong work ethic, he was a dedicated, hard worker, not the laid-back, stoned musician a lot of people think he is. He was a perfectionist in his melodies and in his performance, and so driven. I want to understand why he was so driven."
No favourite track
After working so closely with the man and his music for months, Macdonald was hard-pressed to choose a favourite Marley track. He, however, cited early work such as Soul Rebel and Cornerstone as two of his top listens at the moment. As the documentary comes to an end, Macdonald said he wants fans to get an understanding of the work that they didn't have before and the human being that was Bob Marley.
Marley, he hopes, will be premiered at the Toronto Film Festival before hitting major cinemas across the globe.
While not wanting to 'jinx' the documentary, he believes the story is strong enough for an Oscar nod.
Other projects from Macdonald include the recently released The Eagle and the upcoming Life in a Day, a documentary film project by YouTube.
Life in a Day will be released on July 21 and features videos of YouTube users' everyday lives. The film features clips from people in 192 countries.
SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner