Set in the Dominican Republic, Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s uniquely Caribbean retelling of Romeo and Juliet chronicles the love between a kind-hearted teenager, ostracized for his mixed Haitian-Dominican descent, and the beautiful sister of a local drug kingpin he’s hired to protect.

Contemporary World Cinema

Cristo Rey

Leticia Tonos Paniagua

More than one million Haitians live next door to their homeland in the Dominican Republic. They are the country's biggest minority, and face widespread discrimination despite the fact that as many as half were born there. Taking up the story of these migrants, many of them undocumented, Cristo Rey finds focus in Janvier, a kind-hearted teenager of mixed Haitian/ Dominican descent.

We meet Janvier in the chaotic streets of Cristo Rey, a crime-ridden barrio of Santo Domingo where the cops play by their own rules and turn a blind eye to the activities of those who pay them off. Proud of his Haitian heritage, Janvier shuns his lighter-skinned father and rebellious half-brother as he tries to carve out an honest existence. But he longs for a better life, free from police harassment, and enough money to reunite with his mother back in Haiti. When he gets the chance to make some extra cash playing bodyguard to Jocelyn, the beautiful younger sister of the local drug kingpin, Janvier finds it hard to refuse. But as the two develop an intense connection, Janvier is forced to make a difficult choice.

Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua brings together a talented cast of newcomers for this unique, Caribbean retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Her leads are attractive and charismatic, but more importantly they feel genuinely plucked from the neighbourhood. With its percussive opening music, its sense of place and its depiction of a dangerous and urgent romance, Paniagua gives Cristo Rey the pulse of a hot city.

CAMERON BAILEY

CONTEMPORARY WORLD SPEAKERS

Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an expert and advisor to governments and organizations on cyber security, cyber crime, freedom of expression, and access to information. He will speak about Cristo Rey in an extended Q&A session following the screening. Visit tiff .net/worldspeakers to find out more. Special thanks to the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.

Screenings

Mon Sep 09

Scotiabank 5

Industry
7:15pm
Tue Sep 10

Scotiabank 9

Regular
9:00pm
Wed Sep 11

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Regular
12:30pm
Thu Sep 12

Scotiabank 6

Industry
12:45pm
Sat Sep 14

Scotiabank 13

Regular
6:15pm