SPOTLIGHT ON DOMINICAN FILMS
As Latin America was a big winner of this year’s Oscars with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water winning Best Picture, Chile’s A Fantastic Woman winning Best Foreign Film and Coco, an animated film on Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos, winning Best Animated Feature, we would like to celebrate by focusing on Dominican films and their culture!
As we know, the Dominican people are a huge mix of cultures and ethnical backgrounds, with roots in Europe as well as African and native influences. This fact alone could create deeply interesting stories from a diverse mix of people – perfect for film. But how big is the Dominican film industry? Good news: it’s an emerging one! Cinema arrived to the Dominican Republic in 1900, when the Lumière brothers brought film to the Curiel theater in San Felipe de Puerto Plata. In 1915, the first films were developed in Dominican territory. Francisco Palau’s first short feature La Leyenda de la Virgen de la Altagracia tells the story of a Dominican legend from a 16th century painting. From the 1930s to the 1960s, cinema was mostly used to show propaganda for dictator president Rafael Trujillo. Nowadays, there’s Dominican Film Market. Dominican Film Market™ (DFM) is officially the first film market of the history in the Caribbean region film industry. It’s a three-day festival that welcomes producers, directors, distributors, investors, technicians and entrepreneurs from the film industry in the Caribbean Region.
Themes in Dominican cinema
Big themes in Dominican cinema are the strict regime of the past, and its aftermath on the people of the Dominican Republic. A second important theme is immigration to the United States, a hazardous trip many residents try to make through Puerto Rico. The most notable film in this group is Un Pasaje de Ida by Agliberto Meléndez, released in 1988. This tragedy tells the story of 40 Dominican immigrants who bribed a ship’s crew and in the end, all drowned before making it to shore in the US. Despite the heavy call of historical films, Dominican films also include many comedies and dramas.
Dominican directors & actors
A big name in the Dominican Republic, is Roberto Angel Salcedo, who often plays in his own movies. Like his last hit Pobres Millionarios. Then there are Alfonso Rodriguez, Leticia Tonos, and Juan Delancer, who made a film starring the popular actress Michelle Rodriguez , who is American-Dominican. You may have seen her on the tv show Lost. Other notable actors from Dominican descent? What about Jackie Cruz , who plays Flaca in Orange is the New Black? Zoe Saldana from Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy is half Dominican and lived in the Dominican Republic for 7 years. And, of course, Manny Pérez, a Dominican actor who plays El Nino in Homeland. So many faces!
See a movie in Punta Cana!
A current Dominican film is Veneno, about the biggest Dominican wrestler. It plays in theatres now, and YOU can go see it at the Caribbean Cinemas in Bávaro, Punta Cana! A nice theatre we talked about before and that is not to be missed for a chill night out.
List of Dominican movies
It’s time to pick and choose from a list of greats.
- La República Dominicana (1924)
- Excursión de José de Diego en Santo Domingo (1951)
- La Serpiente de la luna de los piratas (1973)
- The Godfather pt 2 (scenes shot in the Dominican Republic)
- El clan de los Inmorales (1975)
- Apocalypse Now (scenes shot in the Dominican Republic)
- Un Pasaje de Ida (1988) – submitted to the Academy Awards
- Victor (1995) – won several awards
- The Galindez File (2003)
- El Delivery (2005) – aired by HBO 134 times
- Chocolate Country (2007)
- Hispaniola (2007)
- Extraordinary Women (2009)
- Los Paracaidistas (2015)
Many more famous films were shot in the Dominican Republic.
Did you see any of these? Tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook @bestofpuntacanaofficial!