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film Pan African Film Festival 2024: “One Love” Bob Marley

Set against the tempestuous politics of post-colonial Jamaica, through flashbacks, "One Love" portrays the rise of the beloved Raggae legend Marley and his legendary band, The Wailers.

"One Love" - Original Movie Poster,

The 32nd Pan African Film & Arts Festival, America’s largest black-themed filmfest, took place from February 7 to Feb. 19 in Los Angeles. During Black History Month, PAFF annually screens movies ranging from Hollywood studio productions and Hallmark Channel TV-movies to indies, foreign films, documentaries, low-budget productions, shorts, animation, etc. Films span the spectrum from Oscar nominees to hard-to-find gems from Africa, the Caribbean, America, and beyond that L.A. viewers are unlikely to be able to see at any other venue. Here are reviews of just a few of the films audiences have the opportunity to see.


PAFF runs the filmic gamut, from obscure shorts and foreign films to big-budget studio productions. A case in point is Paramount’s great new movie Bob Marley: One Love, which was screened as one of PAFF’s “Spotlight Films” two days before it was officially released on, appropriately, Valentine’s Day.

This biopic about the mythic Jamaican reggae musician opens with a montage of archival footage and news clips of the turbulent politics and electoral campaign of Jamaica’s Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1976 and shows how superstar Bob Marley (portrayed by London-born Kingsley Ben-Adir, son of immigrants from Trinidad) rose to play a significant role in Jamaica’s churning national scene. This includes his surviving an assassination attempt two days before the free “Smile Jamaica Concert,” which was supported by Manley.

The Pan Africanist Marley is shown throughout the biopic reading and/or quoting the Book of Revelations and his fellow Jamaican, Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, plus praising Ethiopian Haile Selassie (who appears in a captivating fantasy sequence). Bob’s “One Love” motto and song reference Garvey’s slogan, “One God! One Aim! One Destiny!” Bob also insists on his tour, including performances in Africa, despite the reluctance of white promoters worried about infrastructure and, of course, profitability.

BAFTA award winner Lashana Lynch, a British-born thespian of Jamaican ancestry who acted in the last James Bond movie, 2021’s No Time to Die, and in Viola Davis’ Africa-made 2022 The Woman King, depicts Bob’s Cuban-born wife Rita Marley, who grew up in Jamaica and converts Bob to the Rastafarian cause. Rastafarianism combines an eclectic mix of Christianity and Afrocentric theology, stressing unity and peace (along with, of course, the consumption of copious amounts of ganja). Rita and Bob had three biological children together, including Ziggy Marley, who introduces One Love with an endorsement of the movie.

Set against the tempestuous politics of post-colonial Jamaica, through flashbacks, One Love also portrays the rise of the beloved Marley and his legendary band, The Wailers. The biopic also recounts Bob’s courtship and marriage with Rita, which could be another reason why this box office hit opened on Valentine’s Day.

I’m no expert on Marley, but to me, Kingsley Ben-Adir convincingly portrayed Marley, whom his bandmates called “Skip” or “Skipper,” as he was their fearless leader. As one would expect, the biopic includes great music, including hits such as the eponymous One Love, No Woman, No Cry, and Exodus, which the characters perform live at various concerts or in recording studios.

The movie was filmed on location in Jamaica and London. Despite the fact that Ziggy, Rita, and other members of the Marley family have producer credits, it’s not a hagiography, and our man Bob doesn’t come across as flawless. The movie is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, who previously helmed a fact-based feature about sports icons, 2021’s King Richard.

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You don’t need to smoke a spliff beforehand (or during) in order to enjoy the highly entertaining Bob Marley: One Love. Ya mon!

The above PAFF screenings took place at: Cinemark Baldwin Hills 15 & XD 4020 Marlton Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90008. Starting Feb. 20, PAFF has a Virtual Cinema Pass through March 31 to see some of the festival’s films. For more information, see here. For more information about PAFF, see here

Bob Marley: "One Love” won PAFF's Ja’Net Dubois Festival Award for Best Narrative Feature.  It is currently screening in theaters nationwide. 

The opinions expressed here are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the Hollywood Progressive.

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based full-time freelance writer and author. He was named after legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Sen. Joe McCarthy and majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College. After graduating, Rampell lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, reporting on the nuclear free and independent Pacific and Hawaiian Sovereignty movements for: ABC News’ “20/20,” Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand, NewsWeek, Honolulu Weekly, etc.