The Harder They Come

Monday, March 13, 2023

50th Anniversary Celebration!

In conjunction with the new musical adaptation opening at The Public and written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and The Public’s Writer-in-Residence, Suzan-Lori Parks, IFC Center revisits the trailblazing film in this special screening. The evening also features a post-film Q&A with Justine Henzell, daughter of director/producer/co-writer Perry Henzell, moderated by Amrita Ramanan, The Public’s Director of New Work Development and the dramaturg of the new production.

WITH A PIECE IN HIS HAND, HE TAKES ON THE MAN! The release of The Harder They Come was an epochal cultural moment that first brought reggae to the international stage, made Jimmy Cliff a star — and demonstrated how music can change the world. Fifty years after its release, the film is still electric with the feeling of discovery.  This Scarface-y blend of crime drama and musical tracks Cliff’s country-boy-in-search-of-fame through Jamaica under the guises of laborer, recording artist, convict, ganja dealer, and outlaw folk hero. Before THE HARDER THEY COME, the collective perception of a “foreign film” was limited to the Bergmans and the Kurosawas of the world. This game-changer forever blew those doors off — and it still hasn’t lost a drop of its cool, its edge, or its way of making you dance.

Justine Henzell is an independent producer and has directed two feature length documentaries highlighting the history of Jamaica. She is a founding member of the Jamaica Film & Television Association and was also a member of the original chapter of Women in Film & Television Jamaica. 

  • Country Jamaica
  • Year 1972
  • Running Time 103 minutes
  • Distributor AGFA
  • Director Perry Henzell
  • Cast Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.