(Coming Soon!) With a haunting soundtrack and startling and exclusive scenes, Krik? Krak! draws viewers into the impoverished, seemingly tranquil landscape of Haiti. Yet the brutal yoke of Duvalierism is soon revealed. Wielding machetes, the despots’ Tontons Macoutes ravish the scant possessions of peasants eking out a mere dollar-a-day on a land too parched to subsist on. Pervasive spies keep villagers on constant guard. And certain Voodoo priests, collaborating with the regime, subdue the people with spiritual control. With support of armed thugs, factory and plantation owners grow fat off their back-breaking toil.
Villagers are seen finding release from their overwhelming burdensome life by spontaneously erupting into communal dance, song, humor and enigmatic storytelling. In Voodoo and Christian ceremonies, they celebrate with more structured expressions of spiritual song and dance.
In the course of expressing these cultural traditions or attending to daily chores, villagers appear oblivious to the harsh conditions exacerbating their struggle to survive. But actually seething, they are struck by hallucinations, reviving their collective past. These startling, graphic visions of their ancestors brutalized by slavers, US Marine invaders breaking into their huts, regime torturers and plantation guards asserting their iron grip and compatriots languishing as refugees in INS camps while villagers’ less successful neighbors set sail for American shores on a flimsy, overloaded boat, only to find their destiny in the bottom of the sea.
These visions of ancestral and more recent events, including those recalling their resistance, from their revolution to Duvalier’s fall and beyond, are visually portrayed in streams-of-consciousness intercut with daily life. As a potent tradition in their nation, they relate to the people’s present existence, acting as inspirational forces in their journey to freedom, at home and as refugees abroad.
While focusing on the roots and effects of decades of Duvalierism, the film paints a portrait that is: “A remarkably insightful, original, compassionate picture of the eternal Haiti” (Graham Greene at Cannes Film Festival). The film travels beyond the rare and occasional headlines through decades, if not centuries of neglect from the outside to the struggle inside. From this vantage, the film unveils the hidden forces driving a people in search of freedom — a highly elusive and ultimate goal — as they confront corrupt forces cyclically re-camping to thwart their quest. The film portrays this insightful tale in a style, acclaimed in Aperture’s prestigious journal to be: “an intriguing. haunting, magical [and] shocking brilliant stream-of-consciousness.”