WorkUntitled

The magazine for critique and discourse between artist, collectors, and curators.

FOLLOW US @WORKUNTITLED_MAG

CONVERSATIONS

MAGAZINES

ARTISTS

INFO

COLLABORATE

PROFIT SHARES

Ramos:  ‪hi‬‬

 

congratulations on Sundance

 

Kane:  ‪hi‬‬

 

thanks much

 

Ramos:  ‪how did you get involved in this film?‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪Kinda like a lot of my previous work: it all starts with a phone call.‬‬

 

‪My good friend Jason Jeffers discovered a martial art using machetes as a weapon, and he called me all giddy, wanting to do go learn the art and make a project. Like two weeks later we were on a plane flying to Haiti to make a film.‬‬

 

It all happened really fast. Jason is from Barbados, and has always seen the machete as the Excalibur of the Caribbean. I saw the project as a chance to document something never really explored in cinema, and tell a positive story about the beauty of Haitian culture.

‬‬

Or at least a particular aspect of the culture, which I find beautiful.

 

Ramos:  ‪it is a beautiful story, there was so much hope and acceptance by Alfred Avril

 

‪and the pain of experiencing the trajectory of the Haitian culture during the past century

‬‬

Third Horizon

Director: Jonathan David Kane

Papa Machete, 2014

Still Frame

 

Kane:  ‪The trust he had in us to tell his story was beautiful. He was in his 70's before he passed away. I can only imagine the things he experienced over the past century of Haiti's tumultuous past.

‬‬

Yet, his hope for the future was steadfast, and I really wanted that to come across in the film.

 

Ramos:  ‪right as if some force was going to balance things out, make things right

‬‬

I loved how he didn't point fingers or justify the process towards scarcity he experienced

 

Kane:  ‪He embodied endurance, preservation, and strength.‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪personally, I identified with the film, because in Cuba the machete is also a prominent tool, both for farming, especially sugar cane, and as a weapon‬‬

 

‪i love hearing stories of my father in "la escuela al campo" and how they had near death machete fights

‬‬

Kane:  ‪Cool. Yea, its amazing how distinctly unique each island's culture is, and yet the Caribbean is entirely connected.

‬‬

Ramos:  ‪definitely in many ways, I was in Cuba during "periodo especial", a time in which food disappeared all together

‬‬

Kane:  ‪Your father was in near death machete fights?!‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪yeah i think anyone that went to "escuela al campo" was too‬‬

when i was a kid I couldn't wait to go

 

but we left before I was of age

 

Kane:  ‪Did your father teach you any fighting technique? I've been looking for sparring partners, and it would be cool to compare styles.

‬‬

Don't try and kill me tho.

 

Ramos:  ‪haha no‬‬

 

i had to learn boxing to defend myself in school

 

that's cause we didn't take machetes to school

 

in "escuela al campo" all the kids had a machete so it was different

whenever there was any conflict everyone was armed

 

how much time did you spend with Alfred Avril?

 

Kane:  ‪Our team and I were in Jacmel with Professor Avril for three weeks.‬‬

 

Part of the structure of the production was in addition to filming, we also took classes. So our whole team joined in lessons each day.

 

Ramos:  ‪that sounds amazing‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪It definitely was‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪is there anything like that here in Miami?‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪Not that I am aware of. Avril and his sons are some of the few masters of this martial art that have not only displayed their practice publicly, but also taught their style openly.‬‬

 

Who knows, maybe with the success of this film, more masters will make their practice public, but for now Tire machét remains a art practiced in the shadows.

‬‬

Ramos:  ‪are his sons continuing the practice and lessons now that he passed away?

‬‬

Kane:  ‪Its a good question.‬‬

 

And one that I am hoping to find the answer to. But I won't know until I ask them, and until them I do not want to speculate.

 

The passing of Professor Avril has been traumatic to all of us.

 

Ramos:  ‪yes I can imagine, he was like a samurai, had a force of his own that felt grounding and at the same time adjusting to the realities of the times‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪Modern day samurai for real. He moved with strength and grace.

 

Was completely aware in every moment. ‬‬

 

There were times when he would be in the middle of a heated bout with a student, and having a conversation with his neighbor walking down the street at the same time.

 

Always with a smile.

 

I mean, I saw this man light a candle with his thumb. That's on some "Jedi master in the mountains of Haiti" type shit.

‬‬

Ramos:  ‪yeah i saw that part‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪Nice! Its so subtle that most people miss it‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪the whole thing is not about combat, it is a spiritual practice‬‬

a way to keep humility as part of the everyday

 

Kane:  ‪Exactly. Deep spiritual practice that goes back centuries.‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪today we fight with guns‬‬

 

it is hard to have a spiritual practice around guns

 

Kane:  ‪Today we fight with guns, bombs, chemicals, media.‬‬

 

Spirituality seems non-existent in the modern world.

 

No time for it

 

Ramos:  ‪i think it's fair to say those weapons things you mention are anti-spiritual‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪soulless

 

Ramos:  ‪they are no longer extensions of ourselves

‬‬

like a sword or machete

 

and perhaps that's the key

 

Kane:  ‪perhaps‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪once the bullet leaves the gun, it is no longer part of us‬‬

 

Kane:  ‪its just seems so easy. Taking a life shouldn't be that easy. There should be more thought in such a decision than simply pushing a button.‬‬

 

Damn, this convo got so heavy lol

 

Ramos:  ‪so is the film‬‬

 

and so is conflict in general, the kind of conflict that requires violence

or leads to violence

 

it's happening all over today

 

using children as explosives

 

Kane:  ‪Its true. Every time I check into the world around me I am violently struck with an onslaught of horrible events. And the people who are trying to come to terms with our contemporary fucked up world society.‬‬

 

Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram, Syria, Ukraine, the list goes on and on, and that was just headlines form the span of the past 7 days.‬‬

 

Ramos:  ‪as a film maker, are you seeking to touch more on these subjects?

‬‬

do you think it adds to the chaos, as in it's best to use film to think of something else, perhaps to escape this reality?

 

Kane:  ‪As a filmmaker, I like working in the completely outlandish/abstract, or telling stories that are hyper realistic. For me, anything in between is boring, adding to the chaos, distraction.

 

I try my best to craft these works with positive change in the mind's eye. I want the viewer to feel inspiration, hope, strength, faith, etc. these kinds of emotions are important to the world, and are increasingly scarce in contemporary art and media.‬‬

 

‪So do I necessarily want to fixate on every world problem, and tell these stories through a documentary lens, and cast judgment or influence like so much media out there does?... well no.

‬‬

I just want to tell interesting, lesser told stories, with the goal of inspiring my audience.

 

‪With all the horrible things in our world, we are still here as a species. Life still exists. Individuality still exists. Beauty still exists. Sometimes we need to be reminded of these things. Thats what I hope my work will do and continue to do.‬‬