Canada | 2002 | Video | 75 mins (Feature Documentary)

Full Synopsis

“They don’t think about what we have together as love. How can you hate someone for loving someone else? It’s ridiculous! It doesn’t matter what sense it’s in, it’s still love. And that’s all I have to say to everyone. What we have is love and we are sharing it.”

So, declares Denise, a young Jamaican lesbian who remains defiant in the face of a notoriously violent, homophobic society that threatens her safety and condemns the way she chooses to love.

Songs of Freedom takes us inside Denise’s world and that of other Jamaican gays and lesbians. It tells compelling stories of individuals courageously carving out meaningful lives, despite the taboo against their sexual identity. Instilled with an often-contradictory sense of humour and anguish, these stories are about growing up, going to school, dating, and “coming out” in a country where one’s individuality often collides with the dictates of family, community and religion. Still Songs of Freedom does more than capture the conflict inherent in the lives of Jamaican lesbians and gays. Evoking the emancipative philosophy of the late Bob Marley, the documentary also conveys the unflinching sense of hope, love and camaraderie used by the people in front of the camera to compose their personal songs of freedom and redemption. We see them as whole persons, full of beauty, complexity and contradictions, always deserving of love and respect. In this sense, Songs of Freedom breaks new ground as the first documentary about gay life in Jamaica, even as it reflects the universal quest for human dignity in the face of oppression. Songs of Freedom features exclusive footage of a drag queen beauty contest. It also features a kick-ass soundtrack with original music composed by Toronto musician Quammie.


Xtra (Toronto) (January 2003)

Metro Weekly (Washington, D.C.) (April 2003)

Montreal Mirror (May 2003).


Official Selection

Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, March 2003)

Get Reel Film Festival (Toronto, April 2003)

Vancouver Queer Film & Video Festival (Vancouver, August 2003)

Reel Affirmations Film Festival (Washington, D.C., October 2003)

Painting the Spectrum LGBT Film Festival (Georgetown, Guyana, June 2004)

Festival Massimadi (Brussels, Belgium, May 2014)

Self-organized Screenings

Bloor Cinema (Toronto, January 2003) (World Premiere)

LOJ Auditorium (Kingston, Jamaica, February 2003)

Visions Cinema (Washington, D.C., April 2003)

DeSeve Cinema, Concordia University (Montreal, May 2003)

NYU Cantor Film Center (New York City, June 2003)

Invited Screenings

SOY (Supporting Our Youth, A Program of the Sherbourne Health Centre, Toronto) (May 2003)

CAMH (Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Toronto) (June 2004)

University of Toronto (Caribbean Studies Program) (September 2005)


North America (Pridevision TV, November 2004)