At the Crossroads: Critical Film and Video from the Caribbean presents a selection of videos and films that challenge conventional notions of the region through images and stories inspired by the cultural, social, and political complexities of the Caribbean.
With works produced by Caribbean and international artists, this program conceptually bridges films from the 1960s to the 1980s with contemporary video art production. In an attempt to map contrasting subjectivities, At the Crossroads shows multiple realities of the “Caribbean experience” to deal with issues such as representation, migration, diaspora, plantation life, and collective histories and memories, including exceptional works from Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Panama, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
July 3, 7-9pm
With introduction by University of Miami Associate Professor, Patricia J. Saunders, Ph.D
- Oneika Russell (Jamaica), A Natural History 5 Sequence 2 (2014). Digital color video. 5 min.
A Natural History 5 Sequence 2 is a series of short video animations that presents a contemporary perspective on Jamaican culture and its diaspora. Oneika Russell, a young Jamaican artist, draws from art history and literature to create digital animations rooted in Jamaica’s colonial past and pop culture. For example, in one of the videos the figure of a man is situated against a green landscape and his appearance is constantly being modified through clashing references, almost like a collage, while in another video, Snow White interacts with an eclectic dancing figure.
- Rockers (1978) (Jamaica). Directed by Theodoros Bafaloukos. 100 min.
With a significant amount of its actors being real life popular reggae artists, Rockers is a Jamaican film, that along with The Harder They Come (1972), introduced reggae music to the world. The movie tells the story of Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, a drummer living in a ghetto of Kingston, who decides to make extra money by selling and distributing records to help his fellow musicians, but is confronted by local gangsters. Starting with a subtle reference to the film The Bicycle Thief (1949) by Vittorio de Sica, Rockers is known for a Robin Hood narrative with a reggae style.
July 10, 7-9pm
Program Introduced by director Karen D. McKinnon
- Making History (2008). Co-directors Karen D. McKinnon and Caecilia Tripp (Florida and Germany). Digital color video, with sound. 10 min.
This video focuses on a conversation between cultural critic Edouard Glissant and Linton Kwesi Johnson, the first black poet to have his work published in Penguin’s Modern Classic Series. The exchange takes place in New York during the summer of 2008. Making History shows a conversation between two Caribbean intellectuals that reflect upon the struggles and successes of a constructed Caribbean identity.
- Haitian Corner (1988) (Haiti). Directed by Raoul Peck. 98 min. Creole and French with English subtitles.
This early film by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck tells the story of a Haitian immigrant and poet in New York who becomes obsessed with finding the man who tortured him during the Duvalier Regime. Convinced that his torturer is also living in New York, this tormented individual delves into situations that complicate his personal and professional life.
- Melvin Moti (Dutch), Stories from Surinam (2002). Digital color video with sound. 35 min.
This work reflects on the story of 34,000 Indian laborers who, between the years of 1873 and 1916, left India to work on Dutch plantations in Surinam.
- BIM (1974) (Trinidad). Directed by Hugh A. Robertson. 100 min. English (from Trinidad).
BIM is a movie that portrays the complex relationship between blacks, Indians and whites in Trinidad and Tobago prior to the independence movement of 1962. It focuses on the life of Bheem “Bim” Singh, an Indian boy living in Trinidad, who is sent to live with his aunt after his father, a trade union leader for sugar-cane workers, is shot to death during a wedding. At his new school, Bim is isolated and picked on by the black students because of his "coolie" (Indian) heritage. As tension builds during his very first day he stabs one of the students as a means of defense. This incident gets Bim kicked out of school and his aunt's home and he is forced to live a life of violence and crime to survive, but then rises to prominence as a trade union representative for the Indian sugar-cane workers.
- Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico), Archivo (excerpt) (2001). Digital color video, with sound. 15 min.
Archivo is a hilarious compilation of short videos that reinterprets notorious incidents in Puerto Rican popular history. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz employs friends and non-actors in reenactments of some memorable incidents that happened on the island, such as the shooting of the legendary outlaw Toño Bicicleta. Drawing from subjective memories and the acts of ordinary people, this early work captures the ironies and contradictions of a collective and popular history in Puerto Rico.
- Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) (Cuba). Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. 97 min. Spanish with English subtitles.
Memories of Underdevelopment tells the story of Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer who decides to stay in Cuba, even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio considers the political changes on the island as he juggles two girlfriends. This is a complex character study of alienation during the turmoil of intense social and political changes experienced in Cuba in the 1960s. Memories of Underdevelopment is narrated from a highly subjective point of view in which the main character tells the story in fragments, resembling the way memory functions.
- Humberto Vélez (Panama), The Last Builder (2008). Digital color video, transferred from Super 8 film. 4 min., 45 sec.
This video creates a connection between a body builder and the Panama Canal. The video shows “the last builder” brought from Jamaica to Panama, who worked on the Canal since he was 15 years old.
- Sugar Cane Alley (1983) (Martinique). Directed by Euzhan Palcy. 103 min. French with English subtitles.
This film focuses on the teenage life and adventures of young José who lives in a shanty-town on Martinique in the mid-'30s. José lives with his grandmother and is well aware of the French colonial presence but they are far away from his world. He gets into mischief, learns valuable lessons on living from an old former slave, gets drunk, and sets fire to one of the run-down shanties. Regardless of his pranks, José never gives up on his studies. At the end, his diligence pays off.