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Darryl Daley - The Filmmaker Behind ‘You&You’


When it comes to British visual innovators pushing boundaries in film and questioning our understanding of things, one individual we should all keep an eye on is filmmaker Darryl Daley. ‘UNU’ or ‘You&You’, a short film released on July 9th (as of recent, exhibited at Black Cultural Archive), explores the depths of immigration and Jamaican history post-independence through the lens of an old lady. To the realisation, Darryl shares;

“Centred around the communal colloquial form of “Unu” often remarked in Jamaican creole with Black Atlantic brethren in the Igbo language of Nigeria which means You in a plural sense, Unu is reinvented and personified in a new visual union. We watch two generations build trust in sharing truths about their journeys from the motherland of Jamaica to the mother country of the United Kingdom via different chapters that have been up-cycled from their previous guise as hurdles.”

Darryl Daley is a South London born & raised filmmaker of Jamaican roots. First getting his foot into film at the end of his academic years, the visionary quickly then started formulating film sceneries of his own, viewed and presented at a variety of acclaimed places. With a sole focus on the black experience and identity, the visual storyteller continues to amaze us with his own interpretation of each subject matter. In 2021, Darryl directed The Art of Storytelling: Pass it Along, for We Present commissioned by creative agency A Vibe Called Tech. Another film direction worth-mentioning is his contribution to poet Julianknxx in Black Room. Recently, the filmmaker took part in realising what can only be described as a visual experience to the author Yomi Sode’s book ‘Manorism’ presensation.


Part I

It is the early 1960s on the third largest island of the Caribbean and Jamaica has just become independent from the United Kingdom colonial rule. Streets are roaming with joyous crowds and chants of celebration, and there is this smell in the air of victory for a new era in Jamaica's history ever since Christopher Columbus and the Spanish colonisation is about to begin. After centuries of humanitarian horror can be finally left behind, Jamaicans are looking forward to days of amusement and letting their newly freed culture be known to the entire world. This time transition translated into layers of fashion, music & entertainment, different physical activities and a sense of national pride emerging from the shadows of a dark age. Although many of its roots towards the African continent and a few other South American influences are kept to the core of the Jamaican identity, new movements are also taken shape and implemented into what is known of the motherland today.



The first chapter ‘The Arrival’ of the trilogy which makes ‘You&You’, introduces us to an old Jamaican woman, the main character of the film and Darryl's grandmother, retelling the rise of Jamaica in its early years through fragments of her memories. The conversation starts as she describes a game of cricket by then known as West Indies against England, a multi-national team implicating all english-speaking nations of the Caribbeans. At the time, as part of Jamaica's cultural embellishment, cricket gained popularity and was a game enjoyed by sport enthusiasts and the average person alike. In fact, the old lady tells her caretaker, who can also be heard throughout the film, that she doesn’t remember much about the match in itself; however, it evidently left enough of an impression to be considered a core value to the country and its people at that particular time. This then leads us to the remembrance of Rumba box, a sound originated from the African mbira, and then imported to Cuba which shortly after spreaded throughout the Carribeans. In this part of her storytelling, she mentions numerous African originated instruments, musicians and famous songs that played a part into moulding the sound & music listened by her folks at its peak.


Part II

Everything that was known then about Jamaica took a sudden turn of events. After Jamaica’s general election in the early 70s, the country was left in social ruins and political division. This soon followed with Jamaican streets being filled with guns transported abroad and also, near to a civil war, leaving many of its people to perish under the inevitable force of violence. Parallel to a national outburst, during that period of time, many Jamaicans in search of employment and a higher living standard, left for England and immigrated over there.


This takes us to part II ‘Motherland’ of ‘You&You’, where the Jamaican born lady explains to her caretaker that she was not there to witness the downfall of her country due to the fact that she immigrated then to England. Before everything changed, she adds, although there was a lack of resources, Jamaican people moved in unity and one often recalls it as the good days of Jamaica. Nothing is revealed about the age she left her country, however, one can presume that she must have been fairly young due to her carer questioning whether her true nationality is indeed Jamaican and not British. An important visual contrast is followed between the arrival of the late Queen Elizabeth and riots in the streets of Jamaica. From the two moving pictures' placement, it almost initiates as if one were the cause of the other. This portion brings up several questions such as whether Jamaica truly gained their independence or not, how much the United Kingdom still profited from its lands and whether luring natives to move to England while the country was in shambles, could be seen as a method enforced to further blur the lines of the Jamaican identity versus Britain’s involvement.



Part III

A few decades later and the once newly-independent nation of Jamaica was nearly unrecognisable from the united population and paradise it was once known as before. In due course, new sub-cultures have emerged which for some meant a brand new chance to reconnect with their roots and for others, left them alienated.



The third and final part ‘Run Weh’ of ‘You&You’ offers a glimpse into the harsh reality of Jamaican immigrants who left the country after its glory days and have to come to terms with the state and condition their homes were found in once they returned. Upon her return, the Darryl's grandmother describes that she had lost contact with several relatives and the struggle she faced, trying to identify with Jamaica’s evolved culture. Similar to a great number of individuals from diasporic communities across the globe, years of separation can cause a tremendous shift to one’s former identification, if not revisited and kept to one’s core. On the other hand, who’s to say that the old lady still carrying such a strong Jamaican accent no longer views herself as Jamaican and perhaps just doesn’t personify with what is known of her country today. ‘Run Weh’ which is the direct translation of the phrase run away in English, is a quote that was thrown at her throughout her stay in Jamaica as she looked to return to the UK. This leaves the last chapter of ‘You&You’ into a complex paradox that could move towards forming a conversation on how much does relocating play into the connection between our immigrated parents and one's nation, later on passed down to their own children and understanding of self-identity as a result.



Even though the ‘You&You’ filmmaker takes a cinematic approach that is hard to digest all at once, one thing is clear; Darryl Daley is part of the film generation that will reshape our ways to look back at history and he may as well become one of its prominent leaders. When you view his vision for the first time, it is not about parts of the storyline you are able to understand or some of the moving images you are able to catch just at first glance, but a combination of both carefully crafted and peeled for an audience willing to sit through another 15 minutes or more just to discover new missing bits and revisit history altogether. There is this famous saying that goes as follows; “What is in the past is in the past.” and perhaps such a declaration was made at a time where cinematography innovators like Darryl Daley weren’t around to beg to differ. It goes without saying that what has happened in the past should stay in the past; however, for those who were not granted the opportunity to write their own stories and let it be told through the echoes of their own mouth - for those who are no longer here to tell their grand-children about themselves growing in a different period of time - are evidently deserving of a second pair of eyes to look behind the curtains and as a result, have their stories retold by one of their own.

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