Cristo Rey, a drama from the Dominican Republic, will close this year’s edition of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) on Tuesday 30 September.
Written and directed by Leticias Tonos Paniagua, Cristo Rey had its world premiere in September 2013 at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the only Caribbean film selected for TIFF last year.
The film is Paniagua’s second feature. Her first, Love Child, was a selection of the ttff in 2012. That film went on to be the Dominican Republic’s entry to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Cristo Rey focuses on the status of the Haitian-descended population in the Dominican Republic. It tells the story of Janvier, a young man living in the town of Cristo Rey (Christ the Redeemer) in the Dominican Republic.
The son of a Haitian mother and Dominican father, Janvier, like so many Haitian-Dominicans, is the constant target of casual discrimination and police harassment. After his mother is deported to Haiti, he is desperate to reunite with her in Port-au-Prince.
Reluctantly he takes a job with a gang leader, El Bacá, as a bodyguard to Jocelyn, El Bacá’s sister. Soon the youngsters are in the grip of a clandestine love affair. As Janvier becomes more entwined with both Jocelyn and El Bacá, he is forced to make a difficult, dangerous decision.
“I’m really looking forward to our film closing the ttff,” said Leticia Tonos Paniagua, who will be present for the screening. Of the film itself she noted, “Haitians and Dominicans have been living side by side for a long time, yet we really don’t know each other. Prejudice and fear come from ignorance. I think art can go where politics has failed to go.”
The screening of Cristo Rey takes place on Tuesday 30 September at MovieTowne, Port of Spain, from 6.30pm. Tickets are $30 and will be available from the MovieTowne box office from Wednesday 17 September.
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