Carnival in the Dominican Republic is more than just a celebration. According to Rubén Durán and Donna Pinnick, the filmmakers behind the documentary Colores del Carnaval Dominicano, along with being a fabulous party, carnival is an act of subversion. “It’s a political force that changed history. And it’s set to merengue music,” Durán says via press materials. Carnival, which has traditionally expressed the complicated history of the Dominican — a population that descends from Spanish invaders, African slaves and native Tainos — has at its heart biting satire.
Gender roles are reversed, with men dressing as women and women as men, and some as something in between. Social and economic class distinctions are blurred, with both the rich and poor donning lavish, jeweled costumes or scandalously revealing outfits. Politicians, religious leaders and public figures are mercilessly lampooned through outrageous outfits worn by the revelers. Nothing, it seems, is off limits. Everything goes. Acts or statements thought unacceptable during the rest of the year don’t raise an eyebrow during carnival. According to the filmmakers, for carnival, you need more than a costume, you need an attitude.
Durán and Pinnick traveled to the Dominican Republic over the course of three years, filming interviews with merrymakers, musicians, masqueraders and mask makers, often on the streets during the celebrations. Shooting hundreds of hours of film, Durán and Pinnick captured the joy, spontaneity, chaos and pride of carnival, which they maintain is the most enjoyable act of subterfuge in the western hemisphere. Today’s screening is the world premiere of Colores del Carnaval Dominicano. 7:30 p.m. Houston Community College, Central Campus, 3517 Austin. For information, call 713-718-6570 or visit central.hccs.edu.
Free. Thu., March 10, 7:30 p.m., 2011 / www.houstonpress.com By Olivia Flores Alvarez