Haiti. Untitled (1995)
1h 22min · Documentary · 8 December 1995
Haiti. Uden title is a kaleidoscopic, dramatic documentary from this chaotic Caribbean country and comprises a mixture of material on video, 16 mm and 35 mm, dating in some scenes right back shooting on Leth's Udenrigskorrespondent (1982). The very lively hand-held video sequences that make up the most recent material make up the bulk of the film and the rapid, fragmentary editing style garnished with neat video tricks, gunfire, etc. put the film at the same level as the Haiti chaos itself. The French photographer Chantal Regnault plays Leth's role as the "experiencer", an observer in the midst of the dramatic reality of Haiti which she also describes with an outsider's fascination. The film contains a large number of very powerful, sensual pictures of life and death in Haiti, the heartrending weeping at the funerals, mountains of refuse picturesquely and infernally aflame, the dramatic manifestations and ritual beauty of voodoo, the rhetoric of the politicians, and far more besides. Another angle is pursued in the scenes of the American soldier stationed there who clearly represents the impotence of western rationalism in the face of Haitian reality. But there are also great contrasts: in perfectly calm passages the tropical rain pours down on the Hotel Oloffson garden in lingering shots, lightly-attired women was clothes in a river, and a naked woman poet recites one of her poems draped in a basket chair as the camera slowly zooms in on her. Shots of a naked black woman on a white sheet offer highly personal erotic material that is also displayed during the film in ultra-brief, hidden pictures. Haiti. Uden title is thus a dynamic, vigorous visual narrative aesthetically akin to a number of contemporary documentaries such as Tómas Gislason's Fra hjertet til hånden (a portrait film about Leth) and Jacob Thuesen's Under New York.
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