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Preview Dominican Republic-Set Retelling Of 'Romeo & Juliet' - 'Cristo Rey'

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 14, 2013 10:49 AM
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Cristo Rey

According to TIFF's write-up, the film is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, set in the Dominican Republic.

Directed by Leticia Tonos Paniagua, and titled Cristo Rey, the drama follows the relationship between a kind-hearted teenager, ostracized for his mixed Haitian-Dominican descent, and the beautiful sister of a local drug kingpin he’s hired to protect.

Cristo Rey stars James Saintil, Akari Endo, and Yasser Michelén, and will be making its World Premiere at TIFF next month.

If director Paniagua's name is familiar, it may be because, last summer, we profiled her last film, La Hija Natural (Love Child), when it was set to be the Centerpiece film at the Caribbean Tales Film Showcase in Toronto.

La hija natural (Love Child) centers on María, young woman with the strange habit of putting ladybugs in her mouth, who, after her mother dies in an accident, decides to look for the father she has never met. She travels to a nearby town taking what few belongings she has. She finds her father, Joaquín, living in a dark, old house in the middle of an abandoned banana plantation, which the locals claim is haunted by spirits. He lives there with an enigmatic Haitian as his only companion. Having no one else in the world, she has no option but to stay with this drunken and recently widowed old man, and confront the ghosts of the past that haunt them both.

The film is available for viewing on various online websites I came across, but I none of them looked official, requiring you to download one application or another in other to view the film. Although it looks like it's available on DVD, but just not in the USA.

I sent some email inquiries out on this, so when I learn more, I'll share here.

A graduate of the London Film School, Leticia Tonos says she's more interested in posing questions than making statements, and especially prefers tackling social issues.

Cristo Rey is her second feature directorial effort.

Watch its trailer below:

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More: Festival Dispatch, Leticia Tonos Paniagua

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  • LatinaNegra | August 14, 2013 4:35 PMReply

    I still don't understand whythe color politics with the leading lady in Latin films. It is fine, seemingly preferred that the man be visibly, non-mixed Black, but the woman is always mixed. It is as if, even as Latin America claims to advance in color politics/racial issues, the AfroLatina continues to be invisible. Same thing in City of God and several other contemporary Latin films. So over it.

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 14, 2013 9:37 PM

    First of all if City of God has a main female character, and I'm not sure it does, it is Alicia Braga and she isn't "mixed" if by mixed you are referring to being part black. Braga is either white or, more likely, Mestizo....a mixture of European and American Indian. As for Afro-Latina I'm not sure if as a group they are any less visible than their male counterparts. It may simply come down to what movie or show you are watching. Obviously I haven't seen every Latin film that has come down the pipe but I do recall that shows/soaps on either Univision or Telemundo would more likley have Afro-Hispnics that were female rather than male.

    As for the point about how the types of black men in Latin films are different than the type of black women used in such movies or shows you do have a point (although "City of God" is a bad example because there were "mixed" black men and non-mixed black women throughout the film). But this is not just true in Latin films. This is how it is almost worldwide. Black females in movies/TV tend to be lighter, they tend to be mixed, they tend to have long straight hair. In other words they look vastly different from most black women in the world. Meanwhile the guys tend to more likely to have strong so-called "Negro features"; the tend to be more pure blood. While people like to focus on how this is limiting the type of black women that get picked for movies, I can make an argument it is also limiting for the black men being chosen (as if there is one type of black male that is acceptable). I recall an African gangster film that had some buzz and had a worldwide release sometime last year. All the dudes look like typical, stereotypical African men but the femme fatale was some lightskinned black women with hair that was atypical in texture and color. It just seemed absurd. But it was also business as usual.

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