Marley, the first family sanctioned documentary on Bob Marley, had its North American premiere at SXSW, and we were fortunate enough to attend it.

With a running time of 144 minutes, the film was certainly long but well worth it, especially if you’re a fan. The film gives audiences a peek into the private life of Bob Marley, with footage, photos, and song recordings people have never seen or heard before. Interviews with family members, close friends and associates gave the film authenticity as they remembered and honored his memory. Watching the film really made us feel like we got to know Bob Marley more as a person. 

The Q and A at the North American premiere of Marley.

The day following the premiere, we sat down for an intimate conversation with siblings Ziggy and Karen Marley, to talk about the film and the Marley name.

L-R: Siblings Karen Marley and Ziggy Marley 

Could you tell us about your experience making the film?

Z: We started talking about doing a definitive film on Bob 6 years ago. We had spoken to a few directors and then Kevin (MacDonald) came up after that. I met with Kevin and we talked about what the film could be, something that covers Bob’s life, exposing the truth. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the happy stuff, the sad stuff—hoping we can have audiences feel a stronger connection to him. Like a person you actually knew, instead of just this iconic figure that smokes weed and plays reggae music. So this was the idea of the film, and I think it achieves that because of the content and the emotional responses I’ve had from it, the family has had from it, and people have had from it. It’s been good working on the film. It taught us a lot, and I think people dig it, you know?

L-R: Director Kevin MacDonald and Ziggy Marley

Now that you’ve made the film, do you feel that you know Bob Marley more as a person?

K: I feel like I gotta a little bit more educated about him, his process, his life. Like the story about Zimbabwe and the tear gas, and how he was the only man on stage and everybody left. I didn’t know all that stuff. I definitely feel like I got to know him a little bit more.

Have you always known you were going to be a musician?

Z: No, I didn’t know I was going to be a musician until I started writing songs—that’s the only reason why I’m a musician is because I write songs. Writing songs is a pretty spiritual experience and I thought if I’m writing songs, if I’m getting these ideas and they serve a purpose then there must be a reason why I’m here. There must be a reason why I’m getting this. But before, I wanted to become a doctor.

K: Or a pilot. (laughs)

Z: Yeah I still wanna be a pilot. (laughs) Be the singing pilot, you know? But I think my whole family is into music. When I say that, I’m talking about before Bob. My grandmother on his side, my grandfather on my mother’s side. There’s a lot of elements in there that is in me that is music, actually, so it’s kind of natural. I was trying to run away from it but it caught up with me because the songs started coming, and what you gonna do, you know? Bob said that, “You can’t run away from yourself…” that’s one of his songs. (laughs)

You have a very successful music career, and now this film. In your music career, having the Marley name, how much of that has helped you push your career forward or how much has it held you back?

Z: In the beginning, especially when I wasn’t fully developed as an artist, as a musician, as a man… because I started very young, so I wasn’t a man yet. I think it helped. It opened doors.

Do you feel that you struggled under the shadow of Bob Marley’s name?

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