Ghosts Of Cité Soleil

Ghosts Of Cité Soleil


Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

Documentaries like the one are always difficult viewing. Telling of the situation in one of the most famous of Haiti's shanty towns and how it is effectively run by gangs calling themselves "Chimeres", meaning "Ghosts". The allegation is that former President Aristide employed armed gangleaders to intimidate the populace and cause havoc in his name, a charge which he denies. In Ghosts of Cité Soleil we hear from the gangsters themselves, who tell a very different story.

Our main players are two young brothers known as Haitian 2Pac and Bily, both of whom are leaders of their own groups of "soldiers", and despite being opposed in terms of beliefs and allegiances are loyal to one another through fraternity. Bily is one of those who has been in the pay of Aristide; paid to spraypaint slogans on walls, to burn tires in the street, to harass protesters and anyone expressing discontent with the President's regime. He seems to have taken the role to heart, whereas 2Pac isn't convinced. He's more interested in making hip-hop music (in which he is encouraged by Haitian-American artist Wyclef Jean, who was also an executive producer on this film) and in his budding relationship with Lele, a French aid worker.

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The whole situation seems broken beyond repair, and thankfully this film never tries to take any of the myriad sides available. Each of the people involved in the love-triangle-of-sorts is given a chance to explain their motives and what they feel they are doing in Cité Soleil. We are given some political context through news bulletins and footage of the chaos surrounding Aristide's deposition in 2004, but apart from that we must draw our own conclusions from the presented facts. The young people in Cité Soleil want peace and for their lives to be easy, but due to the difficulties of the world in which they live they can only see a way out in activities which actively perpetuate the violence and problems that make their lives hard in the first place.

An illuminating and difficult look at a situation which is almost certain to continue to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does. One thing that Ghosts of Cité Soleil definitely seems to do is to put the lie to Aristide's claims that the Chimeres had nothing to do with him.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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A look at the lives and origins of the young gangsters who control Haiti's shanty towns.
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Read more Ghosts Of Cité Soleil reviews:

Gary Duncan ****

Director: Asger Leth and Milos Loncarevic

Writer: Asger Leth

Starring: Winson '2Pac' Jean, Wyclef Jean, James 'Bily' Petit Frère, Éleonore 'Lele' Senlis

Year: 2006

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: Denmark, USA

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