Arts and Humanities People and Community

Cosford Cinema to screen Haitian crime caper

“Kafou” is a dark comedy that explores the kidnapping phenomenon in the country. An in-person discussion with the movie’s director and a co-writer will follow the April 29 showing.
Kafou movie still

A scene from "Kafou," a dark comedy that explores the kidnapping phenomenon in Haiti.

In the Haitian culture, the Vodou deity Papa Legba is a bit of a trickster. His color is red. He is associated with dogs. He resides at every crosswalk and has the power to open the roads.

Most Haitians offer a small sacrifice at each crosswalk, or kafou, to appease the god. That is the basis at the heart of “Kafou,” a 2017 film produced in Haiti, which will be shown on April 29 at 7 p.m. at the Bill Cosford Cinema on the Coral Gables Campus.

The two main protagonists, Doc and Zoe, are hired by an underground kidnapping company to deliver a package. The job comes with an ominous caveat: “never stop the car, never roll down the windows, never open the trunk.”

The crime caper begins to get complicated when at the first crossroad they stumble upon a dog. The choices they make will be irrevocable.

“It is a dark comedy,” said Jacqueline Charles, a Miami Herald journalist who has covered Haiti for decades. “The film gives viewers a chance to see the talent in a country where there is no working movie theater and where this film opens the door to a necessary conversation around what’s taking shape in Haiti.”

Haiti is a nation continually in turmoil, whether dealing with natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, or political strife. In 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated, and the country continues to be plagued by gang violence and an economy in crisis.

Charles will be the moderator of a panel that will follow the screening. She will be speaking with director Bruno Mourral, who is also a co-writer, and Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a co-writer.

One of the topics central to the film is that of kidnappings since Zoe, Doc, and a third character named Fritz get involved in these crimes.

“Filmed on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the film would be difficult, if not impossible, to make on those same streets today given the increase in gang-related kidnappings,” said Charles. 

“Kidnappings in Haiti have become the leading security concern for individuals who live in or who visit the country,” she said. “ ‘Kafou’ gives viewers a look into what essentially has become a pandemic in the Caribbean nation through the lens of talented Haiti-born filmmakers.”

Mourral and Mirambeau started to make the film in 2015, amid working on a feature film “Kidnapping Inc.,” about the widespread kidnappings.

“Since the dictatorship in the 1960s, Haiti has always been a violent country,” said Mourral. “But in 2004, the kidnapping phenomenon became a big issue which impacted the social and economic life of the country—especially in the capital.

“Our family and friends have been victims of this violence,” he said. “These countless stories inspired us to bring this difficult and serious subject to light through a dark comedy twist.”

Financing the movie was not easy. According to Mourral, they borrowed money from banks, family, and friends to finish it. And only one sponsor offered them funds.

“Because of budget issues, insecurity, and violence, we had to shoot the movie in four parts,” he said.

Although the film deals with the dark side of Haitian society, it also has funny moments that will resonate with all audiences, said Charles.

The creators of the film hope the audience will become knowledgeable about the plight of Haiti.

“ ‘Kafou’ is a way to bring awareness to this kidnapping phenomenon destroying our beloved country,” said Mourral. “It is also a way to point to multiple breaches in our society that starts with the choices you must make at any crossroad of your life and the consequences that comes with it.”

He hopes the audience will be intrigued with the movie and that it will stimulate difficult conversations about Haiti.

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