A series of films highlights Caribbean artists and the theme of challenging colonial ideas of paradise


The four-part film series, unravel paradisecentered on Caribbean performers and challenging colonial fantasies of paradise, will debut April 10 at Metrograph In Theater and At Home.

Curated by Dessane Lopez Cassell, Unraveling Paradise features a selection of Caribbean films and moving image works by artists who shatter illusions of the region as a perfect tropical “paradise”.

“There is a powerful myth that has been reinforced in the Caribbean for centuries,” Cassell said. “From early tourist campaigns to contemporary media, visions of the region as a tropical ‘paradise’ abound, each peddling a carefully crafted fantasy for maximum consumption. Presenting the notion of paradise as a case study in the creation of colonial myths, this film series centers instability, misdeeds and the mundane as counter-gestures to the fantasies that bind the Caribbean in a predatory economic and cultural relationship with the Global North. With works by Sofía Gallisá Muriente (with the New York premiere of Celaje), Joiri Minaya, Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, Esther Figueroa, Johanné Gómez Terrero and Dalissa Montes de Oca (with the American premiere of Pacaman).

Unraveling Paradise will run through four programs beginning with paradise in ruins premiere April 10 at 6:30 p.m. The film-essay, Celaje (Cloudscape), is an elegy to the death of the Puerto Rican colonial project and the sedimentation of catastrophes on this Caribbean island.

The second program is titled Jamaica for sale premiering April 17 at 7:15 p.m. Directed by Esther Figueroa, this documentary focuses on the false promise of prosperity through tourism and the environmental and economic impacts of overdevelopment in Jamaica.

program three, beyond the gates, will premiere April 24 at 6:45 p.m. This program will feature a couple of films that speak to the experiences of working-class Dominicans. In both films, Pacaman and Caribbean Fantasy, the daily routine of keeping your head above water takes precedence. Themes include producing a more nuanced portrait of life, work and class in Santo Domingo that deliberately departs from the usual tourist fare of sunny shores and colonial architecture.

The last program in the series, Maintenance Work, will air in early May. A specific date and time must be announced. This program will also include a pair of films: Labadee and Site of Sites. To celebrate International Workers’ Day, these films focus on the work needed to maintain the idyllic settings of paradise. Themes comparing colonialism and tourism in Haiti will encourage the audience to understand the artificial fantasy that is “paradise”.

Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director to foster discussion around the topics covered in the films.

Presented by metrograph and Abrons Art CenterUnraveling Paradise allows others to make thought-provoking films available to understand the hidden issues facing the Caribbean islands.

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