Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall

When young Jamaican immigrants came of age in Brooklyn in the 80’s and the 90’s, they developed a dancehall culture like no other. Dancehalls had the kind of frenzy of music and dance they remembered from home, and it served as a vital link to their culture of origin.

Ballrooms offered a magnificent atmosphere and space for the dancehall movement to flourish in the shadow of hip hop. Key elements were unique and energetic disco nights conducted by DJs. The movement gained influence even to rival hip hop, and it eventually spread country-wide, but life wasn’t always very safe for those involved.

This film is about the pioneers who worked diligently to bring dancehall culture to the masses. Despite the success of many artists who came from a dancehall background, awareness of the culture behind the genre is still lacking. Many believe dancehall records all came from Jamaica, even though many artists worked in New York. The floor is now given to the great influencers in the field, like Sean Paul, Ding Dong and many others, including the film’s producer Shaggy.

Previously unseen archival material and recent interviews are woven together into a cinematic journey from Kingston to New York. The film is a joy to behold not only for dancehall fans but for all who believe that music brings us together.

Marita Nyrhinen (translated by Virpi Sumu)

Language: English
Subtitles: Partially subtitled in English
Length: 93 min
Age Limit: K12
Year: 2023
Production Country: United States, Jamaica

Director: Ben DiGiacomo
Producer: Amy DiGiacomo, Jay Will, Ben DiGiacomo, Ramfis Myrthil, AJ Leon, James Cole Jr., Shaggy
Production Company: A9NY Studio, Decentralized Pictures
Screenplay: Amy DiGiacomo
Editing: Ben DiGiacomo