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Ghost of Cite Soleil (2008)

Winson Jean , Wyclef Jean , Asger Leth  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Winson Jean, Wyclef Jean, James 'Bily' Petit Frere, Eleonore 'Lele' Senlis
  • Directors: Asger Leth
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image/Thinkfilms
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,985 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ghost of Cite Soleil" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

An epic portrait of a family and a culture torn apart by poverty and violence, GHOSTS OF CITE SOLEIL is a powerful and unsettling documentary that takes us inside the lives of the notorious gang leaders who dominate the Haitian slum of Cite Soleil, one of the most desperate communities in the Western hemisphere. Set to a score by Wyclef Jean, who also executive produced the film and serves as an inspiration to the young men of Haiti, the film follows two of the gang leaders, who happen to be brothers, and are also aspiring rappers. The foot soldiers of these gang leaders are known as chimeres ("ghosts") and it was those ghosts whom former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is said to have employed to silence his opponents. Filmed in the months leading up to Aristide's overthrow in 2004, the film captures the smoldering tensions between the two rival gang leaders, and their love for the same woman, set in a city the United Nations has declared the most dangerous place on Earth.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Drama December 17, 2007
By aikanae
This movie was obviously not a scripted documentary and seemed more like a personal, intimate video journal, shot in a tough, third world city where residents needed to survive however they could.

But as the other reviewers pointed out, this movie had a heavy, yet subtle bias. The film never mentioned the source for the financial backing behind the return of the opposition army, the propoganda surrounding Haiti's civil war or the documentation showing U.S.A. and France were were involved prior to their "peace-keeping" activities. They movie misses the bloodbath following unseating an elected leader in favor of returning a dictator. But that has also become such a common script for U.S. foreign affairs since WWII, that it's not very hard to spot anymore.

Complicated? Yes. And that's why this movie is so worthwhile seeing. Despite the obvious bias, the movie was shot through the eyes of people fighting for their elected leader and the viewer is pulled into their personal dilemnas and can't help identifing with their desires. The armed gangs that exist in Haiti are gradually revealed weren't about personal power as much as they were born out of a need for survival, a sense of order - and strangley, a quest for peace. That story became the real intrique of the movie for me. It didn't seem to matter who lead the country as long as violence created more violence.

If the movie had added even one line giving it a more objective context, I wouldn't hesitate to give it 5 stars. I found the subtitles were easy to follow since over half the movie was in broken english. The story moved along quickly without any dull moments. All the characters were believable since they were real and engaging. But what impressed me was the fact I wanted to watch it again, soon.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good documentary that could have been excellent... March 21, 2008
"Ghosts of Cite Soleil" is a good documentary that could have been excellent, if its directors had chosen to dedicate some time to provide the spectator with a better context regarding what was happening in Haiti at the time this film was made, 2004. Without it, we "see" what was happening during Haiti's civil war through the eyes of two gang leaders who took active part in it, but we don't really understand what is going on, or why.

That doesn't mean this documentary is not worth watching, as it gives you an idea of what the lives of the people who lived in the slum of Cité Soleil were like, and the few choices they had in order to stay alive. Become a chimere (or "ghost") and be a part of the gang or die, kill or be killed. Furthermore, "Ghosts of Cite Soleil" prompts you to find out on your own what it doesn't give you, that is, at least a little more information regarding the historical, political, social and economic roots of the deep unrest we witness throughout the film.

On the whole, I can say that "Ghosts of Cite Soleil" portrays a shocking and violent reality in a crude but effective way. I recommend this documentary, but with some reservations: it is not perfect, and it is certainly not for the weak of heart.

Belen Alcat
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars depressing but riveting documentary June 28, 2009
According to the U.N., the most dangerous place on earth is a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti known as Cite Soleil, an area of unimaginable poverty ruled over by armed gangs dubbed by the locals "Chimeres," which, loosely translated, means "ghosts." For the most part, these Chimeres have been active supporters of the Aristide government, which, in turn, has often paid them to intimidate and do violence against anyone who might have the temerity to dissent from the official party line (though the government has long denied doing so).

The documentary "Ghosts of Cite Soleil" focuses on two brothers - one who goes by the name Haitian 2Pac and the other Bily - who, at the time the movie was filmed, made up two of the five major chieftains who ruled the area. 2Pac, who describes himself on camera as a gangster/rapper and as "pure Mafia," nevertheless sees himself as a defender of the downtrodden who have been largely abandoned by the higher-ups and powerbrokers in his country. Thus, his devotion to the Aristide government is seen as tenuous and conditional at best. His younger brother, Bily, however, would appear to have political aspirations of his own, so he is more overtly loyal to the corrupt leader.

The movie was shot mainly in February 2004, which, as fortune would have it, was also the precise moment when Aristide was forcibly removed from office by groups of armed rebels, many of them former soldiers of the army that Aristide himself had earlier disbanded. Thus, the latter portion of the movie takes place in the not-much-more-stable post-Aristide era.

It's hard to imagine a more despairing film than "Ghosts of Cite Soleil," as even 2Pac himself states right up front that in this impoverished hellhole "you never live long, you always die young.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars do not be fooled by appearance August 1, 2008
This "documentary" might seem without proper structure, yet it provides you with all you need to know. Yes, the historical background is not provided in depth, but so what? You expect to learn on this from this movie? Go read a book! You have all the tools you need to judge. I've been watching it alone first, then with a roommate and then with a Haitian. And I rarely see any move more than once. Anyhow, here are the results: personally, I was shattered. My roommate is an idiot. Haitian was not, so we really bonded on this one. I was surprised my roommate (a young, intelligent man in his twenties) could "dis-interprete" the strong message this movie has. Ok, maybe it's this generation z thing or something, but if this is possible, I love this documentary even more. So it is up to you to notice WHO carries guns and who doesn't, who is supposed to help and who doesn't, who expresses very pathological behaviour, who kills, in short, who has the power and who doesn't. There are a lot of people in Cite Soleil struggling to survive and many of them actually do not deal drugs and do not posess guns. Keep that in mind, let the beauty and the charisma of 2Pac not fool you, and you'll be well off. Climb out of gangsta syndrome and see the big picture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars EYE-OPENER
Insightful attention grabber! So well-designed... You almost forget it's a documentary. Real-time footage of the civil unrest is absolutely unreal.
Published 6 months ago by J CASH
3.0 out of 5 stars Be realistic
The documentary is well filmed. But I don't agree on the fact that the united nation stated that cite soleil is the most dangerous city on earth. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Nahomie Moise
3.0 out of 5 stars Violent
It's good for us to watch these films and remind ourselves that these things are happening all over the world.
Published 13 months ago by Bonita Ames
5.0 out of 5 stars Must buy
I saw this on T.V for the first time and knew I had to add it to my collection, sad story however
Published 14 months ago by Nehanda Nzingha Sankofa-Ra
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish (sorry, no zero rating available)
I expected a revealing photo-documentary about Site Solèy. This is just a load of uninteresting, lousy visibility, noisy video clips apparently intended to glorify a... Read more
Published on November 15, 2011 by M. J. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is an amazing film simply because it exists. I cannot imagine how the film makers got access to this environment and we're able to capture this footage. Read more
Published on May 16, 2010 by John P. Marsh
2.0 out of 5 stars Ghosted in Sun City
Thoroughly dismaying and often disgusting, this lurid, amoral pseudo-celebration of inner-city gangstas evokes neither sympathy nor understanding. Read more
Published on January 27, 2010 by Carolyn Paetow
4.0 out of 5 stars la belle lele
i just want to add to all these comments my own infatuation with the character of lele, the french aid worker. Read more
Published on January 22, 2010 by moineau
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts of Cite Soleil
This film portrayed how life was in Haiti just a few years ago. Ghosts of Cite Soleil is an excellent film, but I would not recommend showing it to children; it has strong... Read more
Published on March 19, 2009 by Ruth Tucker
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of context
Cite Soleil is an important movie to see and understand, if it is kept in context. The film portrays conditions that are real and are not well understood throughout most of the... Read more
Published on January 10, 2009 by C. Biewald
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