Movies / Movie Reviews

Ghosts of Cite Soleil at the Fantasia Film Festival

By Al Kratina
Jul 24, 2007 - 23:02

Ghosts of Cite Soleil

2007, Denmark/USA

Director: Asger Leth

Writer: Asger Leth

Cast: Winson "2pac" Jean, James "Bily" Petit Frere, Elanore "Lele" Senlis, Wyclef Jean

Producers: Mikael Reiks, Tomas Radoor, Seth Kanegis, Kim Magnusson, Cary Woods, George Hickenlooper, Jerry Duplessis, Wyclef Jean, Jorgen Leth

Distributor: Thinkfilm

Genre: Documentary


Running Time: 88 minutes


Recently named one of the UN’s most dangerous places, Haitian slum Cite Soleil is a squalid, violent, poverty stricken district, plagued by crime, drugs, and annoying rap music. Essentially, what I gathered from this documentary is that everyone in Haiti would like to be signed to Death Row Records. Also, many of Haiti’s problems could be avoided by making sure that no one listens to anything but Hilary Duff and old Avril Lavigne. You know, back before she started cussing in her singles. That way, instead of toting around AK 47s and smoking blunts while driving slowly driving in circles around the neighbourhood, they would learn to skateboard and throw French fries at each other in mall food courts. Not that they appear to have malls in Cite Soleil. Instead, they have shacks made from particle board, and the occasional wrought iron fence surrounding what appears to be an outhouse, suggesting that perhaps poverty is more to blame than 50 Cent, but it’s so much easier to make fun of him than it is to face the real problems.

The film focuses on two Haitian gangleaders and brothers, 2Pac and Bily. They’re leaders of two factions of the Chimeres, Cite Soleil-based gangs who work as enforcers for the Aristide government. In the course of this documentary, 2Pac and Bily do a lot of yelling at people, showing off their guns, and not much else. They are not sympathetic characters, not by a long shot, although Bily does have his more lucid moments. They’re joined by a helpful French aid worker, who does her best to encourage them to leave the gang life behind, but ends up more involved than she probably should by the end of the film. Director Asger Leth keeps things moving throughout the film, with intense, chaotic camera work that feels like The Blair Witch Project in a French-speaking Compton, except that instead of kicking the map in the river, people misplace their guns a lot. Other than that, not much actually happens in the film, but the fast-paced editing and wild camera work keeps you thinking something’s about to. As a drama, the film doesn’t really succeed, but as a snap-shot of a city and a culture, Ghosts of Cite Soleil is effective. In fact, it might even work as a music video, if it had a better soundtrack.


Rating: 6 on 10




Sick of reading paragraphs with punctuation and sentences? Here’s a bit-sized capsule review, with a handy “Suckometer” scale, that runs from 0 (good) to Suck (not good).


Ghosts of Cite Soleil


Before I saw this movie I thought Haiti was a place where the people hacked each other up in the street with machetes.  This movie taught me something, in Haiti they actually also shoot each other in the street with guns.  I overheard people in the theater after the documentary was finished talking about how this was one of the best movies they had seen all year and how touched they were... these were the people in rhinestone Biggie T-shirts and the people who said "Cite Soleil BRAAPPPP!!" when the lights went out.  I can't say I was quite as moved, because the characters in the film were pretty stupid and made some stupid decisions, which made me want bad stuff to happen to them. That kind of made me feel bad because I don't think I'm a mean person but wow these guys are idiots. Maybe it says more about those guys than me.  Ok now I feel better. Real potential lies in this film but is overall kinda average.


On a scale of 0 to suck I give it a 5.

- Alison Anderson 

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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