The final day of the 11th Reggae University was originally intended to feature a panel discussion with African reggae great Alpha Blondy. Unfortunately, a change of flight schedule meant the Ivorian giant failed to arrive in time for his session. The good news was attendees could still catch him as the Main Stage headliner in the evening.
Instead, the University screened a new cut of Tommaso D’Elia and Silvia Bonnani’s Rototom documentary ‘More Than Twenty’. Featuring updated footage, the film delved into the emotive and eventful history of the Rototom organisation and festival. The screening began with a round of applause for the film director Tommaso and Rototom Sunsplash director Filippo Giunta – both present.
More Than Twenty documented the festival’s rise from humble beginnings promoting club nights in a bar in Gaio to becoming Italy’s pre-eminent reggae destination, until its government-led persecution, exile and re-establishment in Spain. The result was a reminder of how easy it is to enjoy the fruits of the festival without appreciating the cultural and political struggles of its history. The enormous cheer during the credits showed the depth of feeling in the tent.
As a bonus, to make up for the missed discussion, an extra film was announced to be screened in the University the next day. ‘Weapon Is My Mouth’, is Brazilian academic Dr Leo Vidigal’s poetic documentary on sound system, featuring interviews with Ras Kayleb, Askala Selassie, Aba Shanti and Gregory Fabulous.