“GARIFUNA IN PERIL”, a feature film produced and directed by Alí Allié and Ruben Reyes, will have its:
WORLD PREMIERE at the London Latin American Film Festival on November 25 at 5:30 pm at Yaa Centre - 1, Chippenham Mews, Maida Vale, London W9 2AN (www.latinamericanfilmfestival.com);
U.S. PREMIERE at the New York African Diaspora Film Festival on December 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm at Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W. 120th Street, New York City. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the directors and a cultural presentation by the NYC Garifuna Dance Ensemble, co-hosted by the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. (www.nyadiff.org);
SOUTHWEST PREMIERE at the Santa Fe Film Festival at 2:30pm on December 8, 2012 (www.santafefilmfestival.com)
Naturalistically shot in Los Angeles, California and Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras, with debut performances by nearly the entire cast of Honduran and Belizean actors, “Garifuna in Peril” confronts historical and contemporary issues facing the Garifuna community such as education, health and land rights, and is the first feature film with a majority of its dialogue in Garifuna (a language proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity).
The Garifuna people are descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people who live in the coastal regions of Central America and are considered indigenous to the Americas.
The plot of the film follows a Garifuna language teacher, Ricardo (played by Reyes), as he struggles to preserve his fading culture by building a language school back in his home village in Honduras. A business venture with his brother Miguel (Julian Castillo) designed to raise money for the school’s construction becomes complicated by the expansion plans of a nearby tourist resort, prompting Ricardo to confront land rights issues in tandem with his educational mission. Family tensions heighten when Miguel waivers in the face of pressure from the resort, and Ricardo’s wife Becky (Gloria Garnett) objects to her daughter Helena’s (Yessica Alvarez) new boyfriend Gabriel (Luis Martinez). Historical parallels to the contemporary land struggle are invoked as Ricardo’s son Elijah (E.J. Mejia, Jr.) rehearses a stage play about Garifuna hero and Paramount Chief Joseph Satuyé and his last stand against British colonialism on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean over 200 years ago. The play was written by Bill Flores of the Garifuna Writers Group of Los Angeles.
Allié and Reyes originally met at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival at a screening of Allié’s “El Espíritu de mi Mamá/Spirit of my Mother” (his debut feature film relating to Garifuna culture and spirituality)
The directors say the film is especially important at this juncture in history because the Garifuna language is now one generation away from being lost unless serious action is taken to preserve it. This challenge, along with that of defending the integrity of ancestral lands from exploitative interests, is the focal point of the film’s message, highlighting perilous realities not only for the Garifuna, but all indigenous peoples worldwide.
Year of Production: 2012
Countries of Production: USA/Honduras
Running Time: 99 minutes
Languages: 55% Garífuna, 30% English, 15% Spanish
Subtitled in: English (Spanish subtitled version available)
Additional Writing: William Flores
Associate Producers: Dudley Augustine, Ben Flores, Jorge Garifuna
Actors: Ruben Reyes, Julian Castillo, Gloria Garnett, Jessica Alvarez, E.J. Mejia, Jr., Luis Martinez, Aubrey Wakeling, Arleny Escobar
Editors: Alí Allié, Ruben Reyes, Milton Guity, Katherine Cumpa, Marya Murphy
Alí Allié is an independent filmmaker and cinematographer living in Los Angeles. After graduating from California Institute of the Arts, he produced and directed the first dramatic feature film relating to Garifuna culture and spirituality, "El Espíritu de mi Mamá" (Spirit of my Mother) which won awards at film festivals worldwide. Alí’s technical experience as a cinematographer and editor combined with his anomalous insight into Garifuna culture create a unique mix. In addition to pursuing his own projects, he also teaches video production and multimedia at the Blazer Learning Center in South Los Angeles.
Ruben Reyes, a Garifuna scholar and educator born in Tela, Honduras, comes to this project as a partner with extensive knowledge of the Garifuna culture and history and is an expert in Garifuna language. He teaches Garifuna language classes in Los Angeles and also produces "The Sásamu show," a weekly program of interviews on GariTV.com about the Garifuna culture and issues in the community. Ruben is also the inventor of the Garifuna clock, editor of the Garifuna Trilingual Dictionary, and designer of the Garifuna flag emblem. He has also translated the National Anthems of Honduras, Guatemala and the United States into Garifuna, and co-founded the Garifuna Museum of Los Angeles.
For more information, see www.garifunainperilmovie.com