Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Teaser for 'Jurassic World' (4th Movie in Mega Franchise) Surfaces Teaser for 'Jurassic World' (4th Movie in Mega Franchise) Surfaces Watch Trailer For Controversial Artist Kara Walker’s Film ‘An Audience’ Watch Trailer For Controversial Artist Kara Walker’s Film ‘An Audience’ Watch Trailer for 'Storms of Carnage: The Black Panther Unleashed Part 2' (A Fan-Made Film) Watch Trailer for 'Storms of Carnage: The Black Panther Unleashed Part 2' (A Fan-Made Film) Rumorville - This Actor Just May Be in Contention to Play Apocalypse in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Rumorville - This Actor Just May Be in Contention to Play Apocalypse in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Watch Uncomfortable Interview Bill Cosby Gave to AP on Rape Allegations Watch Uncomfortable Interview Bill Cosby Gave to AP on Rape Allegations  Toni Morrison Breaks Down Race as a Social Construct to Stephen Colbert Toni Morrison Breaks Down Race as a Social Construct to Stephen Colbert Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne Will Celebrate August Wilson in PBS Special Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne Will Celebrate August Wilson in PBS Special Review: 'Seasons of Love' Might Be Yet Another Train Wreck of a Ratings Bonanza for Lifetime Review: 'Seasons of Love' Might Be Yet Another Train Wreck of a Ratings Bonanza for Lifetime Wow! BBC Announces That Idris Elba Will Return for a 2-Part 'Luther' Event Series in 2015 Wow! BBC Announces That Idris Elba Will Return for a 2-Part 'Luther' Event Series in 2015 Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-Funded 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus' Finds a Distributor, Gets Release Date, Poster, Synopsis Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-Funded 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus' Finds a Distributor, Gets Release Date, Poster, Synopsis Lupita Nyong'o Will Star in Mira Nair's 'Queen of Katwe' Film Adaptation (On Ugandan Chess Prodigy Phiona Mutesi) Lupita Nyong'o Will Star in Mira Nair's 'Queen of Katwe' Film Adaptation (On Ugandan Chess Prodigy Phiona Mutesi) Whoa! Steve McQueen & Harry Belafonte Are Teaming Up on a Paul Robeson Film. Will Be His Next Feature Whoa! Steve McQueen & Harry Belafonte Are Teaming Up on a Paul Robeson Film. Will Be His Next Feature Chris Rock on That Stubborn Burden of Representation Thing ("Black Fame" vs "White Fame") Chris Rock on That Stubborn Burden of Representation Thing ("Black Fame" vs "White Fame") Weekend B.O. Nov.14-16 (Why Didn’t 'Beyond the Lights' Light Up at the Box Office?) Weekend B.O. Nov.14-16 (Why Didn’t 'Beyond the Lights' Light Up at the Box Office?) White People Don't Get It Because They Never Had to White People Don't Get It Because They Never Had to Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review: Afro-Colombian Coming of Age Drama 'La Playa D.C.' Is Now On VOD

Shadow and Act By Nijla Mumin | Shadow and Act August 4, 2014 at 1:19PM

Though it isn't perfect, this story signals something we need more of, portraying people who have existed and survived in a country where their stories, like the Afro-Colombian soundtrack, ring loud and distinct.
0
La Playa DC

Juan Andres Arango's drama "La Playa D.C." is now available on VOD via the new platform www.reelhouse.org (an online video community that provides filmmakers complete control to self-distribute content directly to their viewers).  ArtMattan Productions - known for their experienced, careful, patient and caring handling of films in their library, squeezing as much life out of each as possible, ensuring that they are seen as widely and often as their resources allow - acquired all U.S. rights to the film last year. Here's our review...

There's an interesting scene in Juan Andres Arango's La Playa D.C., where main character Tomas and his older brother El Chaco walk through a ritzy mall, and are accosted by security guards who question their presence. After being thrown out of the mall, El Chaco angrily exclaims that he left Colombia because of incidents like that. Colombia has the third largest black/African population in the western hemisphere, behind North America and Brazil. Like these countries, there's been systematic attempts at erasing the presence of these people and their cultures. 

A teenage Tomas, played by Luis Carlos Guevara, defies his mother and stepfather's wishes to become a security guard, and instead embarks on an artistic journey in cutting hair. The barber trade documented in this film is one of the stronger threads, showing how culture is preserved through one's clippers. Haircut designs that American audiences would associate with the early hip hop days, are shown here to carry a special brand of appeal and masculinity. That special brand of appeal carries over into a scene in a blue-tinted club where black Colombians grind with each other to their own hip hop music. It is rather beautiful to see this diasporic variation on a common theme.

As Tomas attempts street-survival and tries to locate his younger drug-addicted brother Jairo, he reunites with El Chaco who just returned from "The North," walking with a swagger that when shot from the back, adds a nice layer of personality to the story. When the camera is positioned behind him and more importantly behind Tomas, we navigate a heavily divided terrain in a way that reverses a dominant perspective for one that we rarely, if ever, occupy. 

This perspective makes the film's content important and nuanced, but also frustrating at times. Guevara, with a perfectly angled face and keen features doesn't always register emotional beats, leaving some key moments without the intended impact. The realist aesthetic complements the performative style, but doesn't always do the job.

There's also a fascinating way that water operates during interludes where Tomas, Jairo, and his mother sit alongside a rushing river as she braids a "map" in his brother's hair, telling the story of how slaves would use braiding to "find their way back." In the same way that Tomas' learns to use haircutting to preserve, his mother's braiding signals a sort of return to a time past, an origin that cannot be returned to even as it is continually referenced and dreamt about by the characters. Their forced migration as the result of the civil war, into the dense space of Bogota has in a way disrupted that origin, that culture, causing Tomas and the people around him to preserve life by escaping, assimilating, or cutting hair.

La Playa D.C., named for the beach in Colombia's capital district, lets us into a world we are not often given access to in cinema. Though it isn't perfect, this story signals something we need more of, portraying people who have existed and survived in a country where their stories, like the Afro-Colombian soundtrack, ring loud and distinct. 


This article is related to: Juan Andres Arango, New On VOD


Shadow & ActNewsletter