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FIRE BURN BABYLON

Documentary Film Competition

Director Sarita Siegel, UK, 2010

53 minutes, color

EXHIBITION PREMIERE: February 2, 2012

WATCH TRAILER  |  WATCH FULL FILM


SYNOPSIS:

When a volcanic eruption devastates the Caribbean island of Montserrat, three Rastafarian friends leave their rural retreat and resettle in London. The men’s lives and beliefs transform as they rediscover new ways of living in the city that they believe represents their spiritual nemesis, ‘Babylon’.


CAST AND CREDITS:

Director: Sarita Siegel

Writer: Sarita Siegel

Official Site: fireburnbabylon.com


fire burn babylon elroy eskimo squad image


fire burn babylon image freestyle mc lyndon eskimo squad


fire burn babylon eskimo squad image


fire burn babylon documentary still image
 
the freestyle life film exhibition audience award winner


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FIRE BURN BABYLON

Documentary Film Competition

Director Sarita Siegel, UK, 2010, 53 min, color

WATCH TRAILER  |  WATCH FULL FILM




OVERVIEW:

Having met and fallen in love with a Rastafarian at the Notting Hill Carnival the filmmaker finds her life irresistibly bound to the fortunes of a crew of Caribbean Rastafarians who have resettled in London after a volcanic eruption devastated their island home.


“Fire Burn Babylon” is an inquiry into the transformations of culture and place when a spiritually vivid past meets the intransigent reality of a Western city. Sarita films Lyndon, I-Shaka and Elroy as they reinvent themselves as rude-boy rappers and small-time hustlers on the East End nightclub circuit. Will their dreams of celebrity be realized before the law catches up with them?


Will the birth of their children by non-Rastafarian women introduces new values in their lives? When your child must be brought up between two worlds there will be difficult choices to be made. “Fire Burn Babylon” is told through the eyes of the men themselves, the women who love them and the elders who guide them.




FULL SUMMARY:

Sarita meets Lyndon, a self-styled Rastafarian priest and drug dealer, at Notting Hill carnival. Sarita is fascinated by his contradictory lifestyle and moves into Lyndon’s world. Together, they return to the small island of Montserrat that was once Lyndon’s home where the townspeople are wary of the Rasta community. Ostracized by mainstream society, elder Rasta woman Bint describes feeling at peace out in the bush working alongside her husband. We experience the Montserrat Rasta community’s way of life and values.


Lyndon tells an apocalyptic tale of the eruption that forced him to move to England. As he walks through the post-eruption moonscape, Lyndon describes accepting safe passage to London believing that it would be a stepping-stone towards repatriating to Africa. At first Lyndon experiences London as ‘Babylon’, a potent symbol of control and oppression in Rastafari. Lyndon moves about London with two friends, Ishaka and Elroy. On a visit Buckingham Palace Lyndon raps a freestyle diatribe about the oppressive forces of England’s royalty, benefit agencies and police authority. At a Sabbath gathering, the Rasta men burn a chalice pipe and chant biblical verse. They explain smoking marijuana as a sacrament.


Soon the three friends begin to reinvent themselves in London’s ‘concrete jungle’. Each follows a different path and reinterprets his Rasta beliefs according to the chosen lifestyle. Lyndon is a talented freestyle MC and he forms a hip-hop crew with Ishaka and Elroy. They write lyrics and swap out elegant Rasta language for fake American accents and ghetto slang.


The men chase elusive dreams of fame and fortune in east London’s club-land and play up to stereotypes for easy thrills and opportunities. Elroy begins living as a Jamaican ‘rude-boy’. He takes to the streets and begins a life a crime. Lyndon moves in with Sarita yet he is conflicted and pitches between embracing the thrills of the city and committing to the temperance that Rastafari extols. More constant Ishaka gets a job in a shoe factory.


Central Records, a small record label, discovers the crew. With a producer’s backing, they produce the first “Eskimo Squad” CD. The crew have a real product to market. The Squad get gigs and produce videos. Yet success remains just beyond their grasp. Unable to unite and market themselves strategically they revel in an illusion of success.


Elroy’s ‘baby-mother’, Clarissa talks about his lack of responsibility and infidelity. Sarita is unexpectedly drawn into the life of a ‘baby-mother when she gives birth to a son, Mateo. Lyndon expresses love and wonderment in his first moments with his son and relishes his new role as ‘baby-father’, but soon after he returns to club life, impervious to consequence or responsibility. Sarita kicks Lyndon out and becomes a single parent.


Elroy slips deeper into a life of gun crime and crack dealing. Elroy is ‘nicked’ and does several months in jail. While Elroy is in jail, The Eskimo Squad begins to disintegrate. Lyndon becomes a petty hustler. He slips into an erratic street life as the police break in and seize his stash of marijuana. Lyndon’s sense of invincibility prevails and he evades capture. Sarita encourages Lyndon to continue building a father-son relationship despite these difficulties.


Once Elroy is released from jail he moves in with Clarissa and relies on her for housing and money. Elroy now has a second ‘baby-mother’ and he splits his time between their homes and new girls he meets. Clarissa is adamant she will finish the relationship, but fearful of consequences we know she will stay. They christen their second child.


The Eskimo Squad ultimately end-up pursuing their individual music projects. Ishaka shoots an R& B music video for a solo album surrounded by his kids. He plans to take his music career to the US. Elroy starts dj-ing at a pirate radio station and ever-confident Lyndon takes his son Mateo to solo dj-ing gigs. Lyndon returns home to Montserrat and Sarita visits with Mateo. They acknowledge that although they failed to blend their diametrically opposed values in a relationship, they are committed to passing on a rich bi-cultural world to their son Mateo. Realising he can never happily return to an isolated farming life, Lyndon ultimately settles into more moderate experience of Rastafari that has relevance to his inner city life.




 

Live Q&A with Sarita Siegel Monday August 6, 4:15pm EDT

sarita siegel q&a





THE FREESTYLE LIFE FILM EXHIBITION


DOCUMENTARIES

Electronic Awakening

Fire Burn Babylon

Tango Your Life




SHORT FILM

Bathing and the Single Girl

Before the Law without Law

Civil

K.O.

Live Outside the Box

Mugs

Next Level

The Record

The Ballad of Sandeep

War Story

What Level?




NARRATIVE FEATURES

The Bad Intentions (Las Malas Intenciones)

Combat Girls

I Hate Tom Petty

Lupo della Notte (Night Wolf)

Marathon

A Stone’s Throw Away (A Tiro de Piedra)




MUSIC VIDEOS

Cassandra’s Run

Magic

My Will to Live



 
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