Grace Jones is like you’ve never seen her before in the new documentary film Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. She takes us down a journey of her most intimate and real experiences as an artist and gives us an inside look at her upbringing in Jamaica with her family and friends.
The documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami directed by Sophie Fiennes open with one of many live musical performances from Jones on stage. Director Sophie Fiennes takes us front and center to the behind-the-scenes footage of what takes place when we see Grace Jones backstage. There are moments when she has arguments with promoters, disagreements with the use of dancers, and also the transformation of Grace Jones turning into the iconic figure we’ve known for decades. The film also features Jean-Paul Goude, Robbie Shakespeare, and Sly Dunbar.
What was so distinctive about this documentary is the haphazard method Fiennes takes with telling Jones’ narrative. She intercuts footage of Grace Jones with her family in Jamaica eating fish and drinking coconut water. The eminent Grace Jones, barely recognizable without her makeup, unpacks so many personal moments as a mother, sister, and daughter. It was beautiful to see how close and connected her family is with her after all of these years and to be have a moment to watch these conversations felt like I was sitting at the dinner table and invited to take part in this family gathering.
Don’t expect Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami to be a documentary that features archival footage from Grace’s past or hear interviews and commentary from colleagues. This film is intentionally used to capture Grace’s life in the now. Her present day story is told as a veteran musical performer and woman who is disciplined and determined to keep the momentum going in her career. You understand after seeing this how she’s managed to keep that sustainability and longevity after all of these decades.
Fiennes only captures the music parts of Grace’s life as opposed to her work in the entertainment industry as an actress. I would have liked to have seen Grace’s commentary about her work in Hollywood, but it appears that at this time Grace Jones herself is focused more on her work in the music industry; at least that’s what the documentary film captures anyway.
I spoke briefly to director Sophie Fiennes and asked about the use of archival footage, oddly enough she says there were none even though the film was shot over a decade. However, I later interpreted that to mean this never before seen footage of Jones was filmed live as it was happening and was not pulled from any previous interviews or home movies from Jones’ past.
Overall I really enjoyed this documentary, I learned so much more than I would expect to find out about Grace, especially the personal aspects of her life. I would highly recommend that any and all fans of Grace Jones watch this film and learn more about this icon’s daily life as a legendary musical artist.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.