San Diego Black Film Festival on Sunday, February 3 at 12:15pm at Reading Cinemas, 701 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 (www.sdbff.com)
Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival on Saturday, February 16 at 2:30pm at Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills, 4020 Marlton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90008 (www.paff.org)
Filmed 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 are a mix of West African and Carib-Arawak Indian people who originated on the island of St. Vincent in the 17th Century, and are considered indigenous to the Americas. For over 150 years the Garifuna successfully defended the island against European colonization, but were ultimately defeated by the British and exiled in 1797 to Central America where they now live in the coastal regions of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. More recently, large numbers have immigrated to U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
The plot of the film “Garifuna in Peril” centers around Ricardo, a Garifuna language teacher living in Los Angeles, 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 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 objects to her daughter Helena’s new boyfriend Gabriel. Historical parallels to the contemporary land struggle are invoked as Ricardo’s son Elijah 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 1795. This play-within-
Allié also photographed the film, with assistance from Franzwah Estrada in Los Angeles and Angel Castillo in Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras. The film was edited by Allié, Reyes, Milton Guity, Jr., Katherine Cumpa and Marya Murphy.
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.
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, filmed in Honduras). Reyes questioned why Allié made that film in Spanish and Allié responded by challenging Reyes to make a film in Garifuna language. They ended up collaborating over a decade later, ultimately bringing a unique mix of talent to the table with Allié’s cinematographic expertise and Reyes authority as a Garifuna language expert.
Reyes is also the author of “Garüdia”
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)
Written, Produced and Directed by: Alí Allié and Ruben Reyes
Additional Writing: William Flores
Associate Producers: Dudley Augustine, Ben Flores, Jorge Garifuna, Bennie Davenport
Principal Camera Operators: Alí Allié, Franzwah Estrada, Angel Castillo
Editors: Alí Allié, Ruben Reyes, Milton Guity, Katherine Cumpa, Marya Murphy
Principal Actors: Ruben Reyes, Julian Castillo, Gloria Garnett, Etsil Arnold, E.J. Mejia, Jr., Yessica Alvarez, Luisito Martinez, Arleny Escobar, Aubrey Wakeling, Bill Flores, Araceli Nuñez
Alí Allié is an independent filmmaker and cinematographer who was born in Northern California. After graduating from California Institute of the Arts, he produced and directed several Spanish language short films, Mi Piñata (a Mexican woman’s tragicomedic birthday fantasy) and Agua en la Villa (a montage of water usage in an orphanage in Honduras), both of which played at major Latin American film festivals. He then went on to direct the first dramatic feature film relating to Garifuna culture and spirituality, "El Espíritu de mi Mamá" (Spirit of my Mother), filmed in Honduras, which won awards at film festivals worldwide. More recently Alí has been working as a cinematographer on several independent films such as Canary and Amity, and with young people in the field of video production and multimedia at the Blazer Learning Center in South L.A.
Ruben Reyes is a Garifuna scholar and educator who was born in Tela, Honduras with extensive knowledge of the Garifuna culture and history and is an expert in Garifuna language. He has taught Garifuna language classes in Los Angeles in association with the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation and also produced "The Sásamu Show," a weekly program of interviews on GariTV.com about the Garifuna culture and issues in the community. In 2012, Ruben published the first Trilingual Garifuna Dictionary (Garifuna/English/
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