Documentary Chronicles Marley Birthday Bash Print
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New York, by Wes Orshoski — — April 9, 2007

"Africa Unite," the documentary film capturing the 2005 concert in Ethiopia that celebrated Bob Marley's 60th birthday, debuted Saturday in New York, with a little help from Marley's family and actor Danny Glover.

Before the screening at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, Glover remembered being dragged to a 1970s performance by Marley, and being forever inspired. With the Marley family's Tuff Gong Pictures, Glover's Louverture Films executive produced "Africa Unite,"

The film blends on-the-street and behind-the-scenes footage with snippets of the 12-hour concert, attended by an estimated 350,000. It features performances by Lauryn Hill, Angelique Kidjo, reggae mainstays Bob Andy, Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths, and several of Marley's children, including Ziggy, Damian, Stephen, Cedella, Julian and Ky-Mani.

The latter also performed renditions of "Redemption Song" and "No Woman No Cry" with a small backing group before the film.

Directed by Stephanie Black -- who had previously worked with the Marleys on "Life and Debt," a look at the saga of Jamaica's beleaguered, post-Independence economy -- "Africa Unite" also delves into the purpose behind the 2005 concert: to inspire Africans, especially youths, to help themselves.

It introduces the viewer to students hailing from across the continent who were brought together in the Ethiopian capital of Adidas Ababa as part of the concert to discuss ways in which they could spur economic and educational reform and combat poverty and strife in their respective nations. It also follows the Marley brothers and a Rastafarian elder on their journey to Ethiopia.

Following the film Saturday, Marley's eldest grandchild, and his widow, Rita Marley, made brief comments before a group of drummers led a Rasta chant.