TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! Writer-director Al’Ikens Plancher’s Konpa is a heart-warming glimpse into a moment in the life of a young Haitian-American man. We find Jean (Edson Jean) gliding up to a night kitchen in Little Haiti in Miami on his bicycle. He tries to order from the unimpressed Manmi (Marie La Falaise-Noël), who tells him twice that she doesn’t understand English. Since he understands but doesn’t speak Creole, they stand in a frustrated stalemate until she calls up Minouche (Nagela Lukacs), who understands English. She glides into the frame from the kitchen, though she’s not dressed for restaurant work.
Instead, the beautiful Minouche is showing skin and wearing jewelry for a night on the town. When Jean tells her he can only understand but not speak Creole, she smiles seductively and says, “That seems like your choice.” Then, acting as the gatekeeper before Jean can order food, Minouche leads him next door, where people are dancing and teaches him the Haitian Konpa. Minouche also schools Jean on what to say to order his food. He clearly wants to stay with her, but other concerns drive him. She pushes his phone away when he tries to get her number and says she’ll see him next week. We then learn what urgent cause pulls Jean away from Minouche and feel certain he will return to see her for more food and dance.
“…before Jean can order food, Minouche leads him next door, where people are dancing…”
Konpa wastes no time pulling the viewer into the Haitian night atmosphere. Jean’s quest for food and the pleasant surprise when he finds more than he was seeking, a new dance partner, effectively hit the right emotions. The cinematography sweeps us onto the dance floor. The music and dance are captivating, and we see new possibilities through Jean’s eyes as he dances with Minouche.
In an interview with Theatre Full Stop magazine, Plancher commented on his inspiration to make the film: “Language connects us in more ways than one. So, the idea that many proud Haitian Americans in my day-to-day life do not know how to speak or understand Haitian Creole is very interesting to me. Are you truly connected to your culture? “
Konpa is a delightfully sensual short film that will take you out of your world for a few minutes into a night full of romance and compassion in Haiti.
Konpa will screen at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…a delightfully sensual short film..."