Review: Kite Zo A

Score: B+

Director: Kaveh Nabatian

Running Time: 67 Minutes

Rated: NR

Kite Zo A is the most visually stunning film of the year. The documentary traces the lineage of art as a form of protest for the Haitian people. Whether it's dance, music, poetry or even rollerblading, there's no shortage of expressions or styles to get their message across.

The film uses the poetry of Gabriel Jerry Wood as a through-line, but there's no narrative per se, just a series of a breathtaking performances from the people who live in one of the most oppressed nations on the planet. Although not every person spotlighted is a fountain of righteous anger. Some use their art to express their own inner torment or jubilation. Director Kaveh Nabatian makes sure to highlight many different religions and spiritual beliefs, too, including Christianity and voodoo. (The latter looks much different than what movies have depicted over the years.)

Fans of sensory overload documentaries like Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka will find plenty to immerse themselves in. For more casual viewers, Kite Zo A hopefully sparks an interest in Haiti. The film is more of a snapshot than a full history. At just over an hour, there's plenty of wonder, but not a lot of context. An older musician fills in some details on life under the brutal Duvalier regime, which inspired the film's title (translated as Leave the Bones), but there's a lot of ancient and current history that would illuminate the art we're seeing. Even with changes to the country's constitution and recovery efforts after the 2010 earthquake, poverty grips the country. After hard-won independence centuries ago, Haiti's colonizers have kept their boots on the people's necks. Many people (myself included) never learned this in their world history classes.

But even with some supplemental reading required, Kite Zo A is one of the most impressive works of the year.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.