Zo reken (“shark bone”) is the nickname given in Haiti to the Toyota Land Cruiser, a powerful 4x4 vehicle popular among the humanitarian aid organisations that are omnipresent in the country since the 2010 earthquake.
10 years later, as the country is once more in turmoil and under a strict lockdown, a zo reken has been hacked and transformed into a mobile space for encounters and discussion among Haitians. Foreign aid workers are no longer allowed on board.
The driver leads the conversation with his passengers, all citizens of Port-au-Prince, as he tries to make his way between the barricades and the demonstrations. They talk about the state of the country, about neocolonialism and humanitarian aid, and anger is mounting. They’re angry at the president who lost the people’s confidence, frustrated by the international community that made promises that were never kept, and desperate to see the end of the violence against the most vulnerable.
zo reken is a road movie and a machine that makes them speak.
Dir. Emanuel Licha - 86min - 2021 - Canada
"As the writer Lyonel Trouillot is heard saying in the film, “this vehicle means either NGO or repression. It means power, in any case.” Aid and repression are united in the zo reken, which has become the main character and antihero of the film." - Emanuel Licha on the www.truestoryfilm.blog
"structured around a steady flow of conversations on national identity, political conflicts and foreign intervention....while the interior of the “zo reken” feels like a safe space for spirited debate, the camera also peeks through the windows to observe the tumultuous reality outside. Traffic stops are crowded with vagrants, and talk of young men being gunned down emerges from the winding streets." - Guardian
"uses cinematic metaphor to evoke the dignity of a people and the human trap that is the international aid industrial complex...[The film’s] minimalist controlled tableaus and carefully chosen conversations provide an unflinching gaze at the violent, often self-defeating consequences of foreign aid.” - Hot Docs Jury, Winner Best Canadian Feature Doc.
"For his poetic breaths and his fertile film device which, with the complicity of the team, highlight the tension between the characters and the reality that surrounds them. This process reminds us that our existence will always be political." RIDM, Montreal International Doc Fest, Winner Grand Prize Best National Feature
"uses the powerful all-terrain vehicle as a metaphor for the inequality that divides Haiti...Offering a unique and intimate portrait of both a nation and an international aid model in desperate need of change, zo reken is an absorbing work." POV Magazine