Archive for the ‘Showcase’ Category

If life is shit, then life in Cité Soleil, a slum of Haiti’s capital Port Au Prince is the amount of diarrhea from 100.000 dysentery affected tourists. It’s an area controlled by gang leaders who are in constant war with each other and in constant war with both the government and it’s opposition.

The political situation in the country is quite difficult to understand and this ‘documentary’ is not really explaining it. But basically this movie takes place in the year that former president Aristide left the country and rebels/opposition took over control.

A Danish director managed to film two gang leaders from the notorious slum during that year. How he was able to gain their trust is unclear. But he did and the result is quite disturbing. The gang leaders are brothers, they each control a part in the huge slum. They have a love/hate relationship with each other, which is very confusing. They are physically quite different, so it’s weird that – by the end of the movie – the director still writes the names of the brothers when they both appear on the screen. As if he assumes the viewers still won’t be able to tell them apart. They are very intriguing people. One, called 2pac, is a wannabe rapper. The other, Bily, is more serious and even has political aspirations. They both are smart. And quite likable. But their adoration of power and violence makes them no kids to fool around with. If they were fictitious, they would be superfly motherfuckers. But they are real, so it’s more difficult to fully empathize with them.

Luckily there is bonus material on the dvd, which is worth watching. The main feature feels like a snippet. By the time the end credits roll you feel disappointed because there are so many other things you want to know about these guys. The extras don’t really explain that much more, but it makes you realize that the director had to make a decision on how he wanted to tell the story. He totally decided to tell it from the brothers’ perspective. So it’s very biased. Several critics blame him for not being more neutral and for taking sides. But I guess he had to do so in order to get this movie made. I wonder if he ever asked them questions, because all they do is talk into the camera and say what they feel like saying.

The third main character in the movie is even more intriguing. It’s a volunteer worker who befriends the brothers and ends up being the girlfriend of 2pac. Throughout the entire movie I couldn’t help thinking that she worked together with the director. It felt like she was (voluntarily) used as bait to get the trust of these gangsters. I’d love to meet her and ask her about this. I’d interrogate her for hours about her relationship with these guys. You never really get to learn why she’s in Haiti really. It feels like she’s just there to party with the bad guys. I’m sure she must have done so helpful work too. And I’m really interested in learning about these kids’ past. They aren’t just street (or slum) smart, they are very eloquent both in their creole-French and in English. Oh well.

It’s NOT a documentary. It’s a showcase. But it’s a fascinating one. Endure the unimpressive beginning and wait until the volunteer worker becomes very present in the story. Don’t expect to understand the Haitian situation after this movie. Don’t expect neutrality. And don’t expect a Haitian Cidade De Deus either. It really isn’t that cool. It’s sad. But true.

the whole film is on youtube dubbed in French, like a real documentary