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An epic portrait of a family and a culture torn apart by poverty and violence, Ghosts of Cité Soleil is a powerful and unsettling documentary that takes us inside the lives of the notorious gang leaders who dominate the Haitian slum of Cité Soleil, one of the most desperate communities in the Western hemisphere.

Set to a score by Wyclef Jean, who also executive produced the film and serves as an inspiration to the young men of Haiti, the film follows two of the gang leaders, who happen to be brothers, and are also aspiring rappers. The foot soldiers of these gang leaders are known as chimerés (or "ghosts") and it was those ghosts whom former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is said to have employed to silence his opponents. Filmed in the months leading up to Aristide's overthrow in 2004, the film captures the smoldering tensions between the two rival gang leaders, and their love for the same woman, set in a city the United Nations has declared the most dangerous place on Earth.

As real as today's headlines, but with all the shape and drama of fiction, Ghosts of Cite Soleil is a powerful documentary that takes us inside the lives of notorious gang leaders who dominate the Haitian slum of Cité Soleil, one of the most desperate communities in the Western hemisphere. An epic portrait of a family and a culture torn apart by poverty and violence, the film follows two charismatic young gang leaders who happen to be brothers and aspiring rappers. Filmmaker Asger Leth stunningly captures the desperation, the brutality, the rhythm, and the poetry of their daily lives. Working with cinematographer Milos Loncarevic, Leth reveals the story - and the secrets - of a city the United Nations has described as the most dangerous place on Earth.

2pac and Bily, the brothers at the center of the film, have chosen the only path to survival in a country beset by poverty and economic and political chaos. They are gang leaders who oversee foot soldiers known as "chimeres," or ghosts, employed by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to silence his opponents. Bily has joined Aristede's Lavalas political party, hoping the politician will lead his people into the future. 2pac, on the other hand, has become disenchanted with Aristede and dreams of leaving Haiti. He hopes his talents as a rapper will be his ticket out of Hell. The political rivalry between the brothers is further complicated by an unexpected development in their personal lives when both Bily and 2pac fall in love with Éléonore "Lele" Senlis, a Frenchwoman who works for a charitable organization in Haiti. In fact it was Lele and Milos Loncarevic, a Serbian photographer/cinematographer taking pictures of Haiti's slums, who first introduced Leth to Bily and 2pac.

The brothers were receptive to the idea of having a documentary built around them and permitted Leth and Loncarevic to follow them during the tense months leading up to Aristede's overthrow in 2004. "The men in the gangs are young and they all know they are going to die young," Leth explains. "2pac was the oldest at 26. Seeing death on the horizon, the brothers wanted to tell their story. A drive for immortality? A hope that through telling their story they would somehow stay alive? A mix of both, probably. And even in Cité Soleil, there is something to feeling like a superstar and enjoying a few moments of grandeur before death."

Film Info

(2013)
2 min 14 sec Duration
13,063 views
  • Posted: December 03, 2007
  • Director: Asger Leth
  • Writer: Asger Leth
  • Studio: THINKFilm
  • Release: June 27, 2007
  • Cast: Winson '2Pac' Jean, Wyclef Jean, James 'Bily' Petit Frère

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