ABOUT THE FILMS

EN FRANCAIS

Royal Bonbon, Charles Najman (Haiti)
Salsa, Joyce Sherman Bunuel (France, Cuba)
Breath of Life (Soplo de Vida), Luis Ospina (Colombia)
Dollar Mambo, Paul Leduc (Mexico)
Plaff!, Juan Carlos Tabio (Cuba)

Special Guests


ROYAL BONBON
Charles Najman

France/Haiti, 2002, 90 minutes
With Dominic Batraville, Verlus Delorme, Erol Josué, Anne-Louise Mesadieu

An unhappy man wanders the streets of Cap-Haïtien, dreaming of an imaginary kingdom in which he is King Christophe, first lord of the world, former slave and liberator of Haiti in 1804. Chased out of the city, he takes refuge in the ruins of the Château Sans Souci, accompanied by Thimothée, a young boy he has taken under his wing. The man convinces the inhabitants of a neighboring village, who have been awaiting the return of the king for two centuries, to participate in his mad scheme. In a few days, the man succeeds in restoring the hollow kingdom, which the people happily support. Before long, however, the king reveals himself to be a tyrant. Disgusted by the change in his erstwhile protector, Thimothée becomes one of the leaders of a revolt that ultimately topples the king.

A writer, journalist and filmmaker, Charles Najman has made several documentaries, including Les Revenants, winner of the Prix Arts et Culture at the 1993 Angers Film Festival, and Chagall: la mémoire d’un peintre and Zombies, both of which were broadcast on Canal Plus in 1998. His first feature, La Mémoire est-elle soluble dans l’eau ?, won a number of awards, including first prize at the 1997 Tübingen International Film Festival. In 2000, his film Les Illuminations de Madame Nerval won first prize at the Kalamata International Film Festival in Greece.


SALSA
Joyce Sherman Bunuel

Cuba/France, 2000, 100 minutes
With: Vincent Lecoeur, Christianne Gout, Catherine Samie, Michel Aumont, Roland Blanche, Esteban Socrates Cobas Puente (Barreto), Christiane Cohendy, Naim Thomas, Aurore Basnuevo, Eliza Maillot, Pierre-Arnaud Juin, and the group Sierra Maestra

A brilliant classical pianist, 24-year-old Rémi Bonnet, renounces his career for his true passion: salsa. In Paris he takes dance lessons from an old salsa master and decides to “become” Cuban and teach salsa himself. The results are inevitable when the beautiful young Nathalie becomes his student. She finds Rémi very seductive, much against the wishes of her father and her fiancé. The group, La Sierra Maestra, is the master of Cuban salsa and their music permeates the film. The vocal harmonies, the fabulous brass, and the incredible percussion are pure magic.

Joyce Sherman Bunuel is the former daughter-in-law of Luis Bunuel. Since 1980, she has directed 20 films for French televison, as well as written scripts for both written scripts for French films including Les Cocotiers by Joel Santoni, Tout Feu Tout Flamme by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and Black Moon by Louis Malle. Her first film, La Jument Vapeur (Dirty Dishes) was featured in the NYC New Directors festival in 1984. Salsa, which won the Dos Gardenias award for best music at the 2000 Havana Festival, is her second feature film. In 2002 she directed the feature film, Single Again in 2002 starring Maria de Madeiros.


SOUFFLE DE VIE
SOPLO DE VIDA
BREATH OF LIFE
Luis Ospina

Colombia/France, 1999, 105 minutes
Prix d'interprétation féminine / La Cita 99
With Fernando Solorzano, Flora Martinez, Robinson Diaz, Alvaro Ruiz

Breath of Life (Soplo de Vida) is a Colombian film noir. The story revolves around a young woman “Hirondelle,” murdered in a cheap hotel in Bogota. By chance, an ex-cop becomes the private investigator of the crime. Without knowing the true identity of the victim, he reconstructs, in the course of his investigation, fragments of her life. He discovers that she was sentimentally involved with several men: a defeated boxer, a blind lottery salesman, a cowardly bullfighter, and a corrupt politician). What begins as a casual investigation of a crime of passion ends up involving the private eye when he discovers that he, too, was part of the victim’s life.

Born 1949 in Cali Colombia, Luis Ospina studied film at UCLA. Upon his return to Colombia, he became the director of the Cine Club in the city of Cali and wrote for numerous Spanish and English language publications. During this period, he also directed a number of short films and documentaries. His first feature film, Pura Sangre, (1982) was honored both the Cartagena and San Sebastian film festivals. During the past 20 years, Ospina has directed over 20 documentaries for Colombian television, many of which have also been shown internationally. He returned to fiction in 1994 with a tv movie, Capitol 66, co-directed with Raul Ruiz. Soplo de Vida is his second feature.


DOLLAR MAMBO
Paul Leduc

Mexico, 1993, 80 minutes

To tell the story of the military invasion of Panama in a musical film, without dialogue and without narration, sounds like a crazy idea for this film by Paul Leduc. But this Mexican director has both courage and talent. In Dollar Mambo, Leduc uses just song and dance to tell the story of life in a cabaret. Home of little deals, joyous celebrations, and big love affairs, this night club is a metaphor for all of Panana, and is suddenly invaded by the United States Army. Gone are the mambo and the Creole rhythms...

Paul Leduc was born in Mexico in 1942. He studied architecture and theatre and worked as a film critic for El día and the weekly El Gallo. He studied film for several years at IDHEC in Paris and after his return to Mexico founded the film collective Cine 70 and is considered a leader in Mexico’s new wave cinema. In addition to Latino Bar, Leduc’s many films include Reed: Insurgente Mexico, Barocco, Frida: una naturaleza viva and Dollar Mambo.


PLAFF!
Juan Carlos Tabio

Cuba, 1995, 110 minutes, Comédie
With Raul Pomares, Daisy Granados, Thaïs Valdes, Luis Alberto Garcia
Spanish with English subtitles

Plaff! is a joyous, yet rebellious comedy, made by the same filmmaker who brought us the wonderful Waiting List, and who co-directed Strawberry and Chocolate and Guantanamera with Tomas Gutierrez Alea. Throwing eggs at houses, walls, windows, even at people, is an old practice from Cuban witchcraft that still exists today. Everyday, someone throws eggs on Concha’s house, to the point where she wonders if she is the victim of an evil spell. Seven suspects, but who is the mysterious egg-thrower ? A very well-made movie, from start to finish: a complete success by one of Cuba’s best filmmakers.

Juan Carlos Tabío has been associated with most of the major Cuban movies of recent years; he co-directed Strawberry and Chocolate and Guantanamera, with the late, great Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Lista De Espera (Waiting List), was his fourth solo feature after Se Permuta in 1984, Plaff! in 1988 and Elephant and the Bicycle in 1995.


SPECIAL GUESTS

Born in Haiti in 1952, Monique Clesca emigrated to the United States in 1964. She received a Bachelor’s degree at Howard University and a Masters degree in Journalism from Northwestern Universtity. Returning to Haiti, she worked for over 13 years with UNICEF. In 1996, with Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, she co-founded the Fondation Forum Eldorado, a cultural non-profit foundation that promotes cinema and performing arts and manages the Forum Eldorado movie and performing arts theater, giving access to cultural events to underpriviledged children. Since 1991, she has been production director for all of Peck’s films shot in Haiti (including Man By The Shore). As a director, Suzy will be Clesca’s second documentary film, after her debut with  Restavek, child slaves in Haiti.

Georgia Popplewell is a writer and television producer/director based in Trinidad and Tobago. Her credits include the teen AIDS series Body Beat, the environmental series Ecowatch, and the documentary 25 Years of West Indies Cricket, produced in 1998. She is a co-founder of Earth Television, and has worked on projects in the Caribbean region for Banyan, RFO Martinique, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Video Associates, Channel Four, and the Nickelodeon cable network, where she was associate producer on the critically acclaimed pre-school series Gullah Gullah Island. She will participate in the 2003 St. Barth Film Festival’s film-in-the-schools program and round table discussion on film and literature.

Keith Q. Warner was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where he completed secondary school before beginnign his studies in France.  He holds the Licence ès Lettres and the Doctorat in French Literature from the University of Caen.  He has taught at the University of Saskatchewan, Howard University, the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, and is currently Professor of French and Caribbean Studies at George Mason University.

His varied publications include Kaiso! The Trinidad Calypso: a study of the calypso as oral literature, and translations of two French Caribbean novels: Black Shack Alley by Joseph Zobel, and The Bastards by Bertène Juminer. His own novel, . . . And I’ll Tell You No Lies, was published in 1993. He has co-edited Caribbean Connections: Moving North, and his latest book has been published by Macmillan Caribbean, On Location: Cinema and Film in the Anglophone Caribbean.

Dr. Warner has served as consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (Radio Canada), D.C. Commissions on the Humanities and on the Arts, and the American Museum of Natural history. His work on Caribbean culture has been widely acknowledged, and the French government has awarded him the Palmes Académiques for his service to French and francophone culture.