Friday, August 17, 2007


Ghosts Of Cité Soleil (Asger Leth, 2007)

It's really hard to knock a guy that's genuinely put his life on the line to make a documentary film like this - even Iraq In Fragments, which I reviewed recently, isn't set amidst such casual cheap violence as the US-style gun culture enacted out by the portrayed thugsters and gangsters here in the metropolitan neighbourhood of Cité Soleil on the outskirts of Port Au Prince. And undeniably it's nothing less than captivating throughout.

You can't blame the subjects of the film who are already born into a total disaster area of poverty and deprivation - it's an underlying tragedy that the corrosive effects of military and cultural colonialism will simply not disappear despite the country's nominal 200 years' independence.

But, part of all that is Asger Leth with his 85-minute wide-eyed MTV rap video that the amazing original footage has been converted into; it's also Lele, the silly French 'relief worker', who can't see any bigger picture beyond her next overseas shagging opportunity, and who should be more than old enough to know better; it's US troops once again being pointlessly thrown into narrow squalid street alleyways on some vague political imperative; and let's be honest here, it also includes oneself the viewer/voyeur lapping it all up for an evening's entertainment.

Haiti deserves a lot better than this.


Jeff said...

quatroerogenicRetro-post, but I just saw this documentary called "Aristide and the Endless Revolution" that, though somewhat dry, gives a decent background history of Haiti of the past 15 years. I didn't realized he'd been forced out by managed coup-d'etats on two seperate occasions. My recollection was that it had happened once. Maybe the second time I heard about it on the news, I thought "didn't this happen before?", like the Swiss Army accidentally invading Liechtenstein.

Wade Davis' book "The Serpent and The Rainbow" is nothing like the Wes Craven movie, it's a non-fictional history of Haiti and Zombiism. I thought it was a good read. Davis was an ethnobotanist and he covers well the subject of tetrodotoxin, the puffer fish poison, how it's extracted and turned into the zombie-making powder. And the rituals surrounding the zombies.

Also, this happened recently:

William Bennett said...

yes, I agree, Jeff, the Wade Davis book's well worth reading - and thanks for the cool puffer fish link