AN art exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of The Harder They Come will be opened to the public early next month, according to Justine Henzell — daughter of Perry Henzell, co-writer and director of the film.
“It is always an honour to celebrate Jamaican culture and, of course, this particular milestone is very personal to us as a family. Fifty years ago, Jamaica’s first feature film premiered — co-written, directed, and produced by Perry Henzell and starring the amazing Jimmy Cliff. It is also exciting to be celebrating this milestone as Jamaica turns 60,” Henzell told the Jamaica Observer.
The exhibition will be open to the public from June 5 to August 28 between Fridays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm at 10A West King’s House Road in St Andrew. Film nights will be on Sundays at 6:30 pm.
Meanwhile, there will be an invitation-only opening on June 4 which will see a tribute concert with acts, including saxophonist Dean Fraser and trumpeter/singer Dwight Richards.
Henzell said 40 art pieces will be display and took several years to accumulate.
“About three years ago, I commissioned the first piece of art and the idea for the exhibition slowly evolved from that. Now, we have 40 incredible pieces in all different mediums — sculpture, painting, augmented reality, etc, and, of course, I had to include our fantastic poets so we have 20 new poems as well,” she said.
Henzell said that the themes addressed in The Harder They Come are still relevant today. She believes its adds to the film’s appeal, even five decades later.
“Much has changed but much has remained the same. There are still huge divides in our island and it is still a struggle for many to make a living from their inherent talent. There are a multitude of our stories left to tell in myriad ways and we need to be the ones telling them on screen, on the page, and on the radio,” Henzell explained.
She hopes the exhibition will give rise to greater appreciation for cultural Jamaican art.
“Jamaican art and poetry is incredibly vibrant. Our artists are working and exhibiting both at home and abroad and they deserve all the exposure it can garner. I wanted to use the occasion of the anniversary to showcase how 50 years later, one great work can inspire many new pieces to be created,” she said.
The Harder They Come made its debut in Britain in 1972. It made its American run the following year and was shown in New York City, New England and California. The flick introduced Jamaican pop culture to a rock and college audience.
The film starred Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a youth from rural Jamaica who moves to Kingston in search of his big break as a singer.
The Harder They Come is based on Ivanhoe “Rhygin” Martin, a criminal who terrorised sections of west Kingston in the late 1940s.
Perry Henzell died on November 30, 2006 at 70 years old.