1989, Michael Regnier.
Study of the batays, the cane cutting camps for Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
Indiana University Audio Visual Center Bloomington, IN 47405-5901 Sale: $200.00 Rent: $50.00 58 minutes, color. Bob Corbett's review :
This is purportedly an insider's view of the bateys (worker camps for Haitians) inside the Dominican Republic, most of which are run by the Dominican Republic State Sugar Council.
The footage tries to reveal the squalor, disease, hunger, hopelessness and anger of the Haitian workers, most of whom were either lured to the Dominican Republic with false promises, or simply captured at taken by force.
Once the workers are on the plantations they have virtually no hope. Their papers, if they ever had any, are confiscated and destroyed. The surrounding areas are simply miles and miles of cane fields--escape is extremely difficult and dangerous. The live under conditions which are in many senses worse than those of their ancestors under French slavery.
The film proceeds by means of interviews, background information and footage of the camps and cane cutting work. However, the film is not very well shot. Often the black faces of the workers are invisible in the overexposed shots taken in the sun. Further, much footage is simply facial close ups of those being interviewed. The film would have been much improved a greater variety of footage were used with voice/interviews going on over the scenes being shown. Nonetheless, one learns a great deal about the situation of the Haitian cutters in the Dominican Republic, and the film evokes a feeling and sense of the sadness, hopelessness and intolerability of their life situation.
This film would be useful for groups of all ages, and even those who are informed concerning the facts of this situation will find the moving immediacy of the filmed reality to bring a useful emotive sense to one's knowledge.
This film was made by The National Film Board of Canada working in conjunction with the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center.
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