Ignore the sunny name: a two-hour plane-hop from Florida, Haitian slum Cité Soleil is one of the poorest, rawest places on the planet. And the ghosts in question are ‘chimères’: heavily armed thugs employed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to crush opposition movements.
Shot in 2004 (Aristide’s last year in office), this documentary by Asger Leth (son of veteran Danish director Jørgen) convulses with a barrage of frenzied lenswork, jagged edits and a parched, fuzzy palette. Trouble is, the style’s so cluttered that it’s hard to find a clear path through the narrative, which divides between Bily and 2pac – brothers, gang-leaders and rivals for the affections of French aid worker Lele (whose backstory is barely thumbnailed). Still, captured at hair-raisingly close quarters by the fearless filmmakers, the sense of lawlessness grabs the throat and haunts the mind.