On Friday, December 5, Palm Pictures will revive the tradition of “midnight movies” with an exclusive online screening of the legendary reggae classic film Countryman. Directed by Dickie Jobson, the film is a 1982 cult classic, featuring classic tracks from Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, and Toots & The Maytals.
Preceding the screening, at 11:30 pm on Friday, 12/5, the film’s co-star, Carl Bradshaw, will live-chat from Jamaica via Google Hangouts On Air with veteran reggae journalist Rob Kenner. The live chat with Bradshaw and the special “Midnight Movie Streaming” will be broadcast live via Google Hangouts here.
To celebrate the online screening of the film, Toke Signals will be giving away, courtesy of Palm Pictures, a free copy of Countryman on DVD to one lucky winner; the winner will be chosen at random from those who share this story on Facebook by the end of Friday, December 5, 2014.
Countryman, a real life Jamaican fisherman and mystic, played himself in the 90-minute art house film. His feats of skill and daring in that movie made him an “ital” (natural) Rasta superhero and were an accurate reflection of his way of life.
The film’s depictions of ganja use only serve to further endear it to a devoted cult audience.
Island Records founder and Countryman Executive Producer Chris Blackwell recalls, “He was a unique character, able to live in the jungle. We decided to do a film with him because you could never find a movie star who could wrestle with alligators and run through swamps the way he did.
“Countryman was an amazing person, always positive and full of humor,” Blackwell ssaid. “Being of African and Indian descent, he embodied the Jamaican motto, ‘Out of Many, One People.’”
“But his whole energy was full of joy, not complaining about anything,” Blackwell said. “The fact that he could run barefoot through the swamps, we were saying ‘This is incredible, we should really do a film with Countryman.’ Because he is so articulate but is able to be the most basic native type of person.”Hellshire Beach outside Kingston.
There, he was befriended and championed by a generation of artists, including Perry Henzell (director of the classic reggae film The Harder They Come), who directed him in 1973’s No Place Like Home. In the same year, writer Michael Thomas and photographer/producer Arthur Gorson visited Jamaica to do a profile of Jamaican culture and Bob Marley for Rolling Stone; but it was Countryman whose face the editors chose to put on the cover.
“He had a guru quality in the body of a gazelle,” Gorson said. “He was the image of the magical native, and I use that word advisedly.
“Countryman loved being filmed, he was a star,” Gorson said. “He was untrained, but performed as if he was a skilled actor.”