Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, Life and Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences all focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas.
By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.
The film opens with the arrival of vacationers to the island-- utilizing Ms. Kincaids text as voice-over, we begin to understand the profound contrasts behind the breathtaking natural beauty of the island. The poetic urgency of Ms. Kincaids text lends a first-person understanding of the legacy of the country's colonial past, and to it's present day economic challenges.
For example, as we see a montage of the vacationer in her hotel, voice-over: When you sit down to eat your delicious meal, it's better that you don't know that most of what you are eating came off a ship from Miami. There is a world of something in this, but I can't go into it right now. (adapted excerpt A Small Place)