Life and Debt is an award-winning documentary about the effect in Jamaica of IMF, World Bank and WTO economic and trade policies and programmes of the late 70s, early 80s. It does not offer a very favourable assessment.
While do think that the film was very good, to my mind one of its weaknesses is that it didn’t give a good idea of the various timelines involved. Jamaica embarked on its first agreement with the IMF in 1977. By the time Life and Debt, with its scenes of social unrest, was filmed, in the late 1990s or thereabouts, the Jamaica government had put an end to formal loan agreements with the IMF and was pursuing other strategies to respond to financial crisis. Not saying that the overall message of the film is affected by that, but I think that the film should have given indications of when Jamaica entered into its first and subsequent agreements with the IMF, when it decided to break ties with the IMF (and why) and when the interviews and incidents shown in the documentary took place.
I can’t say that I learned anything from Life and Debt that I wasn’t already aware of, and since 2001 when it was released, the anti-globalisation anti-IMF anti-World Bank movement has brought many of the arguments made in the movie to the attention of the mainstream media. But the movie may still be revelatory for some people, I guess.
Thanks to Google video, you can watch Life and Debt in its entirety online.