Saturday, 15 February 2014

Cristo Rey Movie

Last night, I went to see Cristo Rey, a fantastic Dominican-Haitian-French movie part of the Toronto Black Film Festival (taking place in from February 11 to 16). The story takes place in the Santo Domingo barrio of Cristo Rey - itself a major character of the film - and follows Janvier, a young Haitian-Dominican man. The movie markets itself as the caribbean version of Romeo and Juliet, referencing the love story that develops between Janvier and Jocelyn, the sister of Cristo Rey's drug lord . For me, it was the tumultuous relationship between Janvier and his half-brother Rudy that really got to me. Although they share the same father, Rudy looks down on him for being Haitian and eventually become jealous of Janvier's relationship with Jocelyn, whom he tried to date in the past.

Cristo Rey, behind the scenes 

Cristo Rey, trailer

Rudy's racism and denial of his own afro-caribbean identity, which is at the very core of the negative relationship he has with Janvier, mirrors the conflict between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Specially, of the deeply rooted prejudice and discrimination that Dominicans and their government (often) display against Haitians. Even Jocelyn had some reservations about Janvier before falling for him. This is a pretty strong theme throughout the movie:
"Todos los Haitianos se parecen, eso lo sabe todo el mundo" (All Haitians look a like, everybody knows that) - Rudy
"Si no fuera Haitiano, me lo daba" (If he wasn't Haitian, I'd tap that) - Jocelyn's friend
"Cuando [Jocelyn] era pequena, le metimos en la cabeza que un Haitiano se la iba a llevar" (When [Jocelyn] was small, we put in her head that a Haitian man was going to take her away) - El Baca 
Actors James Saintil and Akari Endo 
Janvier and Rudy never make up. However, Jocelyn and Janvier's love story, as well as the appreciation shown to Janvier by many people in the neighbourhood, despite the social pressure to treat Haitians like shit, provides some hope for a future of reconciliation between Haitians and Dominicans. In order for that to happen, I wonder if there doesn't need to be an active effort to reconstruct the Dominican Republic's afro-caribbean reality/identity? It's already happening, especially within the diaspora.

Before you answer that, I leave you with this very "Do-it-yourself" soundtrack. The movie is accompanied by some amazing tunes and I am sad that I couldn't find a more legit track list.

DIY Soundtrack

1. Bylo Ultimatum - Cristo Rey No Bulto

2. Big Mato - Cristo Rey 

3. Poeta Callejero - Bonita, Bonita 

3. Poeta Callejero - Un Loco Como Yo

4. El Alfa - Cacao* 

*IMPORTANTE: Si alguien sabe que es el Vaceo, me cuenta. xoxo

1 comment:

  1. Muchísimas gracias for the DIY tracklist!! I just watched this film to practice my Spanish listening skills and I found myself jamming to the music throughout the entire viewing.

    If you're interested, Manos Sucias is another good one featuring black actors on HBO Latino. Love the blog!


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