Dadli is a vibrant, color-drenched documentary short directed by Shabier Kirchner – a native of Antigua and a rising talent in cinematography much admired for his work on Skate Kitchen (2018) and Sollers Point (2017). The film captures life in a small Caribbean community with a cascade of startling and mesmerizing 16mm images and the intimate and empathetic eye of a fellow islander.
Kirchner shot the striking footage in early 2017 while making tests for the 2nd-unit of Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) director Benh Zeitlin’s upcoming Wendy, and caught the neighborhood just before it was bulldozed by the Antiguan government to make way for the tourism and commercial fishing industries.
“We got ourselves a 16mm camera and a couple cans of film, and went to a village called “The Point” – the last tenement yard system in Antigua, and one of the first villages where the slaves revolted. Today it’s one of the poorest areas, even though it shares a port frequented by cruise ships. There’s this interesting duality between the history of the island’s colonialism and present-day tourism. The reality now is really sad, because the government is forcing the people of that community to leave.” SHABIER KIRCHNER
It was only after Kirchner had returned to his then homebase in New York City that he decided to rework the material into its own film. While editing, a mysterious boy increasingly seemed the short’s natural center. Kirchner’s father, who still lives in Antigua, searched the area and found 13-year-old Tiquan White again, recording his autobiographical narration into a microphone rigged up in his car. The resulting film takes its title from Kirchner’s childhood nickname for the island, and is elegiac, exciting, funny and filled with love for a place and the people who live there.
Kirchner is currently working as the cinematographer of Steve McQueen’s upcoming Small Axe, an anthology series set in London’s West Indian community in the 1960s. He recently lent his distinctive camerawork to Annie Silverstein’s Bull (Cannes Un Certain Regard 2019) and Harry Wootliff’s Only You (London 2018) and was recognized by Variety in 2018 as one of their “10 Cinematographers to Watch”. Dadli is his directorial debut, and he is now developing a feature project based on Kei Miller’s Caribbean-set novel Augustown.
- Credits for
- Tiquan White, Promise No Promises & Jah Cure
- Elise Tyler
- produced by
- Bert Kirchner & Shabier Kirchner
- Gabrielle Dumon, Alexandra Byer & Kevin Steen
- associate producers
- Anderson Andrew, Logiq Pryce & Scott Pierce
- Shabier Kirchner
- Diego Siragna & Cora Siragna
- local fixer
- Justin Nation