Spectacle | 124 South 3rd St.
KRIK? KRAK! TALES OF A NIGHTMARE
Dir: Jac Avila & Vanyoska Gee, 1988.
78 min. Haiti.
In Creole/French/English with subtitles.
A blistering travelogue of hell, Jac Avila and Vanyoska Gee’s classic surrealist-documentary KRIK? KRAK! takes a traditional Haitian call-and-response and morphs it into a broad survey of national instability. The filmmakers capture roiling scenes of unimaginable poverty and repression, juxtaposed against the tropical paradise drawn by the official-ese of 24-year president François “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his backers in Washington.
Featuring interviews with the secret police, refugees, cane sugar harvesters, US immigration officials and black magic priests, Avila and Gee’s landscape of Haiti appears doomed to gridlocked schizophrenia. As the “first free black republic” is passed from one Duvalier to the next, KRIK? KRAK! deals images like clods of dirt, crumbling whenever the narrative begins to get a foothold – the ultimate document of life under voodoo dictatorship.
“Krik? Krak! carries the political documentary into the realm of the fantastic. The story of Haiti’s misery under two generations of Duvaliers is told impressionistically, mingling absolutely extraordinary documents of daily life (including an interview with Papa Doc himself) and scenes from fiction films to convey what a straightforward documentary cannot: the continual shifts between levels of reality in Haitian life, some of which are inaccessible to the camera, in particular, the omnipresence of the Voodoo religion. Krik? Krak! is at the same time a great horror film in the tradition of Haxan (Witchcraft through the Ages).” – Bill Krohn, Cahiers du Cinema
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