Words like “epic” and “huge” were used by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange to describe Bob Marley: One Love, the Paramount Pictures film on the life of the reggae icon that had its premiere at the Carib 5 cinema in Cross Roads on Tuesday. One of the producers, Robert ‘Bob’ Teitel, totally agreed, and emphasised the importance of the Jamaican premiere.
Grange was part of the political directorate, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, that walked the Hollywood-style red carpet, dressed to the nines, and mingled with the Marley family, lead actor Kingsley Ben-Adir and his co-stars, as well as Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who were surprise attendees, and special guests of Paramount Pictures CEO Brian Robbins, and his wife Tracy. The presence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Jamaica, instantly created global headlines, adding another layer of excitement to the already glitzy premiere.
“It’s major,” a satisfied Grange said. “This is huge for Jamaica. This is just a wonderful experience, and I am happy to be the minister at this time. This is going to penetrate the four corners of the Earth.”
Adding that she “won’t take credit” for the Sussexes’ presence, Grange outlined that her ministry, however, was always involved in facilitating projects such as this and acted in various capacities, when necessary. She enthused about the importance of the biopic for Jamaica, the culture and Rastafari, and shared her personal feeling about being able to witness it all.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a feeling of satisfaction; a feeling of pride; a feeling of fulfilment. This is going to be huge for Jamaica,” she reiterated.
Quizzed if this could possibly mean that Bob Marley will be made a national hero, a subject which is mired in controversy and emotions, Grange shared why she could not say. “That’s decided by a committee … the committee that decides on national heroes, so I will not be able to comment at this time,” the culture minister stated.
Bob Marley: One Love appropriately arrives in theatres on the day celebrated for love, Valentine’s Day. The movie is based on the life of the reggae singer and songwriter, from his rise to fame up until his death in May 1981 from cancer. The film, which stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Marley and Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley, is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.
Robert ‘Bob’ Teitel, one of the producers, shared with The Gleaner that he has been on the project for six and a half years and emphasised just how important it was to have the very first premiere in Jamaica, the land of Bob Marley’s birth.
“Being here tonight is kinda surreal. There were so many times … like … oh my God, is this coming together? And the back and forth. So being here tonight is a kind of accomplishment. And to give the film back to the people of Jamaica is such an amazing feeling. The approval of Jamaica is what we wanted from day one … we always said that. The people of Jamaica have to embrace it. If they embrace it, we are good,” Teitel said.
As in all good movies, there are challenges which must be overcome. On Tuesday night, Teitel and his crew were overcomers. “There were a lot of challenges. I felt the pressure of trying to be so authentic to Bob and to his message. I always felt that pressure, it never went away. And just the pressure of making any movie is always hard. But with this one, you wanted to get the music right, you wanted to get the cast right, you wanted it to be authentic, you wanted the look … and I feel like we accomplished that,” Teitel shared.
Quizzed why he signed up for the project, Teitel said that he considers himself “fortunate”.
“I was always a Bob fan … a lover of his music. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it was going to take years. Maybe not six and a half, but I knew it was going to be a journey. And I wanted to take that journey. For me it has been an amazing experience. I am blessed to have done it,” he declared.
The production team will be heading to London, Paris, LA, Toronto, Washington and New York to attend the other premieres and Tietel is looking forward to them all. “It is a great feeling … you work so hard to get to this. But this is the one … the Jamaican one,” Tietel said.