Caribbean film punctuates museum’s art series

Arts / Article

a still from Oneika Russell’s “A Natural History.”

You don’t have to leave Miami to visit our southern island neighbors this summer, thanks to all the amazing offerings centered on the art and culture of the Caribbean that the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is delivering.

There is the solo show from Haiti-born Miami artist Edouard Duval-Carrié taking over one room; with almost the rest of the second floor subsumed by the huge, comprehensive “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” exhibit, with art works from all over the region, starting from the late 1700s to the present.

To complement all of this is what looks to be a great, and even ground-breaking, film series throughout the month of July. Every Thursday starting on July 3, PAMM will screen two movies or videos, ranging from very contemporary to documentary, full-length features and animation.

Opening night is focused on Jamaica. The first film is a 2012 compilation of animated shorts by Oneika Russell, A Natural History. She’s an artist who uses her island’s history and pop culture and music to inform her vignettes. It’s followed by a seminal 1978 film about Jamaica’s most famous output, reggae, which casts some reggae stars in film roles. Rockers from Theodoros Bafaloukos follows a drummer from the ghetto who hawks records for a living, the music mirroring the hard-scrabble life in Kingston, but also with references to classic European film.

That’s just the first night. An early film from Haitian director Raoul Peck tells the tale of a refugee in New York determined to find his torturer from the Duvalier regime; another feature uses the little known history of the tense mix of cultures in Trinidad and Tobago – Indian, black and white – as its backdrop. Other films and videos come from Cuba, Puerto Rico and even the tiny island of Martinique – the latter is represented by Sugar Cane Alley, about a boy in the slums whose blended world includes the remnants of a French colonial world and the stories of a former slave.

It’s likely you won’t have encountered any of these films before, which is why it is such an excellent little fest; free, and courtesy of a Knight Foundation grant.

“Crossroads: Critical Film and Video from the Caribbean” starts Thursday and runs through July 31. Screenings start at 7 p.m., with free guided tours of the exhibits, at PAMM, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. For details on the films, go to pamm.org.