Release Date: June 27th, 2007 (IFC Center) by THINKfilm.
Directed by Asger Leth.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about gang violence and poverty in Cité Soleil, Haiti.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Just like Favela Rising, Ghosts of Cité Soleil shows the troubled lives of people living in a slum where violence occurs every single day. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s President, had employed gangs, a.k.a. “chimères” or “ghosts” to kill anyone who opposes him until he was thrown out of office in 2004. Bily and 2Pac, who claims to be the original 2Pac, lead separate gangs in the dangerous slum of Cité Soleil. They also happen to be brothers who enjoy rapping and who fall in love with the same woman, Lele, a French aide worker. Director Asger Leth combines interviews with Lele and the gang leaders who describe the horrors and difficulties that they experience. Lele clearly works hard to help as many people as she can while risking her life. Admittedly, more interviews with her and some background information regarding how she managed to gain the trust of Bily and 2Pac, would have helped to make this feel more absorbing. The gritty footage with flashy cinematography and some violent images feel quite disturbing and discomforting, which is an appropriate reaction, but eventually becomes a bit overwhelming and tedious. If Asger Leth had incorporated the violence within a larger picture and focused more on its roots while linking it to politics, i.e. through interviews with politicians or political scientists, this would have been just as compelling and powerful as Favela Rising or the upcoming Manda Bala.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Clearly, something has to be done to stop the ongoing violence in these slums. Gang members who have lived among violence throughout their lives deceptively think that it can solve problems. In reality, it actually creates more social problems which will be more and more difficult to solve in the long run.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly tedious and not enough insight into the roots of the violence.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: Disturbing and gritty, but not powerful or insightful enough.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "G" Menu