You are here

Perry Henzell's Relentless Journey Celebrated in New Documentary

Film producers Arthur Gorson (left) Justine Henzell (centre) and David Garonzik

No Place Like Home is probably the Perry Henzell film you never heard of. Hopefully that might change with the help of the documentary short film ‘Perry Henzell: A Filmmaker’s Odyssey’, which closed the day of screenings for the Reggae in Film, Reggae Month event being staged by JARIA, on Monday, February 23, 2015 at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre.

‘A Filmmaker’s Odyssey’ is the story of the making of No Place Like Home. The documentary is a cautionary tale as well as a source of inspiration for the perilous journey the filmmaker undertakes. The story behind No Place Like Home is particularly striking because the film only took over two decades to see the light of day, but also because it reveals the way in which Perry Henzell inspired others, as well as the lasting impact of his iconic The Harder They Come.

‘Perry Henzell: A Filmmaker’s Odyssey’ is a celebration of Perry Henzell’s vision and legacy. It brings no glaring analytical eye to Henzell’s process, nor to the problems surrounding the film in particular or filmmaking in Jamaica in general. That task, will be left to some other film. Its mission is simple, to celebrate Perry Henzell while bringing attention to No Place Like Home and it carries out this mission well.

An early poster of No Place Like HomeAs the documentary explains, No Place Like Home started as the sequel to The Harder They Come in 1973. Alas, plagued by the absence of a script, limited funding, and eventually the disappearance of the negatives, for almost two decades it appeared that the film would never make it to the big screen, though finally did with a little luck, great tenacity and much hard work.

‘A Filmmaker’s Odyssey’ is narrated by Wayne Jobson who delivers the tale in an engaging and unaffected way. 

“I guess for the family, angels come into your life. I’m sitting between two angels,” said Justine Henzell. “They might not look it, they are well disguised, but they are angels,” she said commending Arthur Gorson and David Garonzik (producers and directors of A Filmmaker's Odyssey) for the effort and vision they put into restoring No Place Like Home

Justine Henzell would later tear-up momentarily as she spoke about her father’s trials as a filmmaker in comparison to her own. Her admiration as she spoke about him and gaining the chance to finally work with him during the filming of scenes that had to be re-shot was evident. 

“There is no excuse for me not to do the best I can,” she said. 

Thirty-three years after it began production, No Place Like Home got its first film festival screening at the Toronto film festival in 2006. However, later that same year when it received its first Jamaican screening at the Flashpoint Film Festival, it would finally come home, but without the filmmaker, who had passed away the night before. 

Members of the Henzell family, the film’s production team and Charles Campbell representative of JARIA, spoke in glowing terms about Perry Henzell and his impact on the landscape. 

Arthur Gorson revealed that he was particularly moved to be screening the documentary in Jamaica. 

“I’ve never before had the opportunity to show a film to an audience I’d dreamed of show it to,” he said.

Yet the documentary, is only part of a larger dream. The short film is the centerpiece of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for music clearance to allow No Place Like Home to finally be commercially released. And hopefully, it will take much less than another 25 years.