Monday, May 14, 2007

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Who gets to fuck the white chick?

Went and saw Ghosts of Cité Soleil, a documentary by Danish director Asger Leth about "the most dangerous place on earth" which according to the UN is the neighbourhood of Cité de Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

We meet "2pac" a local gangster and rapper who took his name from the well known American Rap star (another local gangster is named "50cent) his brother Billi and the French aid worker Lele.

We follow them through their dayli life in Cité de Soliel which consist mainly of toting guns while smoking spliffs, talking big to the camera and driving around the "hood" to check if the rivaling gangs stay on their own turfs (the gangs seems to be in control of just a couple of streets each)

"2pac" and his cohorts come out as completely impoverished people who've got nothing to the point where they don't even carry their own names but copy then off the American Rap culture they admire so much. Later on we get a brief insight into the complex, and very violent nature of Haitian politics as many of the gangs work part time as thugs for the local president Aristide, beating up and killing members of the opposition. We also see how the French Aid worker Lele becomes the lover of Billi explaining that her infatuation comes from the fact that the two brothers "hold the power over life and death"

You could also call them two completely lost pot-heads with access to an impressive amount of guns. They live in a place where moral, ideologies and visions for the future have been replaced by pure power worship and so the biggest gun rules. At a point president Aristide is ousted from power and foreign (French and American) troops arrive to restore order, simply meaning that now the really big guns move in.

In the end credits we are told that 2pac has to leave Haiti because of his affiliations with the president, but later returns and is killed. Lele, the French aid worker returns to Paris.

In my opinion Ghosts of Cité de soleil is a disillusioning account of a very fucked-up part of the Third World, and equally disillusioning is it's depiction of the corruption of so-called aid workers, the play and intervention of former colonial powers and the fact that media realities are becoming more real than reality itself. At a point the renowned Haitian born musician Wycliff Jean (who made the films underlying score) says, after listening to some samples of "2pac's" rap music, that "it's no Hollywood over there, those gangs are real" the problem is that after seeing this movie you get the feeling that it's in fact the other way round, that it IS Hollywood in Haiti, that the people portrayed are living their lives in a fiction about themselves and each other, even after the point when the bullets prove to be real.

The Hip-Hop and MTV-ish cool of the movie plus its appoach to the problems of an (exotic) Third World country with some cool looking criminals should earn it dozens of prizes at independent film festivals and secure an audience amongst the white middle class in the west.

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Retro babe "...got any Billy Ray Cyrus on that thing?.."
Panzer Brückenlager panzer
A rare conversion of the Panzer IV carrying a bridge which could be hoisted in position.
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Not my people
Not my war

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