Haitian Immigrants Clash with Dominican Forces in “Cristo Rey” – Caribbean Film Series, December 3rd at BAMcinématek

Santo Domingo-set drama mixes ‘Romeo & Juliet’ with complex racial issues. Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua, in attendance for post-screening Q&A.

November 3, 2015/Brooklyn, NY – Ongoing conflicts between undocumented immigrants from Haiti living and working toward a better life in the adjoining island nation of the Dominican Republic, and the more recent hostilities this past summer with the deportation of Haitian men, women, and children born there to non-citizen parents, is the inspiration behind the new feature film, Cristo Rey.

A selection at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, this vibrantly shot and contemporary update of Romeo and Juliet, is a powerful indictment of the racism and poverty in the Dominican Republic.  Set in the titular Santo Domingo shantytown, Janvier’s (James Saintil) mother is deported to Haiti after saving him from bigoted policemen.  To make ends meet, the kind-hearted teenager of mixed Haitian-Dominican descent takes a job with local kingpin El Bacá (Leonardo Vasquez) as a bodyguard to his sister Joceyln (Akari Endo), who Janvier soon discovers dated his estranged Dominican half-brother Rudy (Yasser Michelén).

Upon discovering Janvier and Jocelyn have fallen in love and plan to escape the barrio, Rudy’s jealousy over their relationship, as well as his denial over his own Afro-Caribbean identity, sets in motion a series of events, which threatens their entire community.  Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s vibrant visuals, reflect hope in a background of deep-rooted and explicit violence and prejudice against Haitians, which has permeated the Dominican Republic for way too long.

Romola Lucas of The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), shares, “For the third edition of the Caribbean Film Series, we desired to focus on a filmmaker from a Spanish-speaking country in the region.” She continues, “With the conflict gaining attention worldwide, and because of its perspective, we thought it was timely to show this particular film, along with a film from the Haitian perspective, to engage artists and the community, in conversation with each other.”

Co-presented by BAMcinématek and the Brooklyn Cinema Collective, in partnership with the Haiti Cultural Exchange, Cristo Rey will screen at BAM Rose Cinemas on Thursday, December 3rd, at 7:30pm.  A Q&A with director Leticia Tonos Paniagua, will follow.  The short film Purgatorio (12 min – 2014), by Haitian writer, producer, and director Martine Jean, precedes the film.

For ticket information go to http://www.bam.org/cristorey. For overall information about the Caribbean Film Series and the Caribbean Film Academy contact Romola Lucas, at romola@caribbeanfilm.org or Brooklyn Cinema Collective’s Curtis Caesar John, at curtis.john@gmail.com.

Directed by Leticia Tonos Paniagua
96 minutes | Dominican Republic | 2013

Set against the violence and poverty of a shantytown where undocumented Haitian immigrants clash with Dominicans, this gritty drama follows the struggle between two half brothers over the woman they both love. Haitian-born Janvier takes a job as the bodyguard for Jocelyn, the sister of a powerful kingpin, who he soon discovers dated his Dominican half-brother Rudy. Once Rudy learns the two have fallen in love, his plans for revenge threaten disaster for the entire community.

With James Saintil, Akari Endo, Yasser Michelén, Jaisen Santana, and Leonardo Vasquez as El Bacá

Preceded by
Directed by Martine Jean
12 minutes | Haiti/USA | 2014

At the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Rosa Jean-Louis fights for her life and the survival of her child. This film is a depiction of the impact of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Tribunal’s decision of September 2013 on Dominicans of Haitian descent. The ruling rendered thousands stateless.


About the Caribbean Film Academy
Established in 2012, The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of Caribbean filmmaking and filmmakers, in the region and the diaspora.  CaFA’s work is focused on promoting and sharing the art of storytelling through film from the unique perspective of the Caribbean.

About The Brooklyn Cinema Collective
The Brooklyn Cinema Collective (BCC), is helmed by Curtis Caesar John, a media-maker and arts manager operating out of New York City.  Under BCC, Curtis founded the Bedford-Stuyvesant microcinema The Luminal Theater, which provides screening space and curated film programs with a focus on African diasporic cinema.  Most recently, Curtis served as Festival Director of New Voices in Black Cinema, a film festival he helped create, that takes place at BAMcinématek and brought audiences the NYC premieres of such films as Neil Drumming’s Big Words and Alain Gomis’ Tey.

About BAMcinématek
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to offer Brooklyn audiences alternative and independent films that might not play in the borough otherwise, making BAM the only performing arts center in the country with two mainstage theaters and a multiplex cinema. In July 1999, beginning with a series celebrating the work of Spike Lee, BAMcinématek was born as Brooklyn’s only daily, year-round repertory film program. BAMcinématek presents new and rarely seen contemporary films, classics, work by local artists, and festivals of films from around the world, often with special appearances by directors, actors, and other guests. BAMcinématek has not only presented major retrospectives by major filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Manoel de Oliveira, Shohei Imamura, Vincente Minnelli (winning a National Film Critics’ Circle Award prize for the retrospective), Kaneto Shindo, Luchino Visconti, and William Friedkin, but it has also introduced New York audiences to contemporary artists such as Pedro Costa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In addition, BAMcinématek programmed the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Nicolas Winding Refn, Hong Sang-soo, and Andrzej Zulawski.

Website:  www.caribbeanfilm.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/CaribbeanFilm
Twitter: www.twitter.com/caribbeanfilm_
Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanfilm

General Information
BAM Rose Cinemas is located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place).
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue; D, M, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue
Train: Long Island Railroad to Flatbush Avenue
Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAM
Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAm

For ticket and BAM bus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org.

For group ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org