Kevin Macdonald’s ‘Marley,’ Documentary on Bob Marley

From the New York Times:

OF all the friends, lovers, relatives and Rastas that the director Kevin Macdonald wrangled into his new documentary, “Marley,” one of his favorite finds was Dudley Sibley, a onetime recording artist and the janitor at the Jamaican recording studio where Bob Marley cut his musical teeth.

“He lived with Bob for 18 months in the back of Studio 1,” Mr. Macdonald said recently over breakfast in Manhattan. “No one ever thought to talk to this guy. My researcher in Jamaica said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s this guy I’ve met who says he lived with Bob.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, I don’t believe that.’ But I met him. And he was for real.”

Making a definitive biographical film about Marley, the reggae superstar, who died of cancer in 1981, has always been problematic, plagued by a shortage of archival footage, disagreements over music publishing, and the fact that Marley had 11 children by seven women and never wrote a will.

“You also have a lot of musicians who felt they didn’t get their fair share,” Mr. Macdonald said. “Jamaica is a poor country. A lot of people feel that, well, ‘I have photos of Bob,’ or ‘I have film of Bob,’ or ‘I have my memories, why am I going to give this for free when his estate is making millions of dollars?’ ” He said he tried to keep it simple, “because the story is so complex.”

Likewise the history of the new film, which can be seen in theaters and through video on demand on April 20. The “Marley” executive producer Steve Bing originally enlisted Martin Scorsese to direct the movie, having worked with him on the 2008 Rolling Stones concert film “Shine a Light.” When scheduling became an obstacle, the director Jonathan Demme was brought on. Then off. Then on. Then off.

“I came on board thinking, ‘Is this the curse of Marley?’ ” Mr. Macdonald said, noting that in addition to the existing documentaries about his subject, there have been at least a half-dozen attempts to make a dramatic feature about the man considered the first third-world superstar.

Continue reading the rest of the story at the New York Times.