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CUMBITE

Cuba, 1965 (MIFF 1966, Programme 37)

Director: Tomás Gutierrez

The story unfolds in the hamlet of Fonds Rouge in Haiti during the Forties. Manuel, a young country­man, returns to his native village after having spent some years in Cuba as a cane cutter. He finds the countryside devastated by a long drought, which the inhabitants either accept fatalistically or hope to break through ancient magic rites. Manuel realises that only concerted, rational action can save the village, but a blood feud makes this impossible. Undaunted, he sets out to find water and to unite the village folk in their common purpose.

This simple tale, leisurely told, has its interest heightened by the observation of local customs, such as a sacrificial ritual to a Guinea god, a funeral procession, and the dancing of the Cumbite. The colourful native music, and the all-round excellence of the acting, result in an authentic portrayal of peasant life in Haiti twenty years ago.

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