Movie Review: THE SOUNDS OF STREET VENDORS (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERTHE SOUNDS OF STREET VENDORS, 8min., USA/Cuba, Documentary
Directed by Michael Brims

A portrait of the music and the sounds of street vendors in Havana.

Shown at the September 2016 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

The Sounds of Street Vendors is a soundscape portrait of Havana’s bustling daily marketplace. As colorful as it is musical, this piece, directed by Kyle Chen is especially interesting given the recent changes to the political and economic scene in Cuba. This film stands as a testament to Cuba’s economic essence: entrepreneurs sell their wares- flowers, peanuts, fabrics kitchen supplies- or their services, like knife sharpening, all in order to make a living. This cinematic piece is as engaging to the ear as it is to the eye, every vendor seems to be singing to attract their business. As though each vendor where birds, chirping to attract their mates.

To the arm chair sociologist or the culturally curious, this piece is a cultural rosetta stone- likening itself to market places everywhere. To a cinema-buff however, it may be frustrating, as the film is more an exploration of a city’s streets and sounds, than it is a dedication to a specific plot or storyline. The film is framed nicely with the larger-than-life vaudevillian style peanut vendor, whose sultry and enticing voice both opens and closes the piece. Beyond that, however, there is not much in the sense of story development. Instead a story that develops following central cast, crew or plot you are brought along as through a journey of discovery, as thought you were a tourist in the street yourself. The characters we see are each individual vendor, and while their moments in the film may be short, they are colorful and clear. Each vendor with their own song, their own items or services and their own clear selling tactics.

Fun, light, bright and whimsical musical The Sounds of Street Vendors is a rich documentary, that shows the audience another type of world. Like many other excellent documentaries, you are not told what to think, but if you leave this film craving peanuts, the vendors of this marketplace have worked their magic on you.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

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