Film Review: Songs of Redemption

Friday 12th July 2013 | Vilma

As a big documentary fan, while I much appreciate a variety of films, I rarely come across a documentary that utterly surprises me. Songs of Redemption brings to life a story of inmates in a Jamaican prison who are trying to redeem themselves through a music rehabilitation programme. The emotional impact the film has on the viewer is astonishing!

Having seen the film at its UK premiere I was fortunate enough to be present at a Q&A session with the filmmakers, which gave intriguing insight into the making of the documentary. Their efforts are visible on screen and you can sense the effect the inmates have had on the crew. This bond comes across throughout the film and directors Amanda Sans and Miquel Galofré made a genius decision not to reveal the reasons for the prisoners sentences until the very end of the film. It provides audiences a chance to watch the documentary without any prior judgement and therefore get more passionately involved in the stories being told. Sympathising with a bunch of inmates is not the easiest task to achieve but the filmmakers successfully let each viewer decide for themselves how to feel about it. It doesn’t try to force any ideas but simply makes you reconsider your ways of thinking.  

The camerawork is absolutely stunning and beautifully captures the bright colours that represent Jamaican life.  It’s the music, however, that serves as the main focus of the documentary and constant reggae tunes keep the film alive whether it is positive or more serious topics that are being discussed. This includes passionate performances by various different characters whose lives we follow, and it is precisely the music that lets them express themselves and in that way open up to the audience.

Despite tackling some serious issues, the film stays entertaining and you leave the cinema with a sense of sincere hopefulness!  


Vilma Nurmela