Let me just start off by saying this is an excellent DVD. In 2004, Chris Starace and his wife Cara traveled to Benin to revisit the country Chris served in as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Chris doesn't gunk up his documentary with incessant commentary, but rather allows the viewer to quietly watch the Beninese people live their lives. That's not to say there aren't explanations of various things. Chris does a good job explaining how people gather their water, why the kids follow you around everywhere, and other aspects of life in Benin.
What can you expect in this documentary? Here's a quick run down of the contents:
- Bonne Arrivée: (30 mins)
See Chris & his wife Cara greeted by the village he lived in while he was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer'Sauce' being preparedChildren singing & dancingThe Real Congo Line
- Life in Allada (35 mins)
Chris's house when he was a PCVHow water is gathered and soldVoodoo alters and fetishesChris and his wife visit a market - lots of footage and explanations. See clothing, food, goods, and voodoo fetishes being sold
- Business in Benin (30 mins)
Tour of a pineapple drying factory and pineapple fieldA shoe repair workshop with explanations of how apprenticeship works in BeninJean's sculpture workshop & his house under constructionA seamstress's workshop and middle class homeArthur's cabinet and furniture workshop
- Voodoo (60 mins)
King of Allada and his royal palaceTour of the village of Agongblame - the setting for the Gambara voodoo ceremonyGambara Voodoo Ceremony which consists of offerings, drumming, dancing, and dancers falling into trancesA Fah reading - similar to a tarot card readingJa Voodoo cult chicken sacrifice ceremony
- Tourism Beninese Style (35 mins)
Trip through Ganvié - a village on stilts over a lagoonTour of the village of LisségazounThe slave road in Ouidah where slaves were marched to the beach and put on the slaves shipsTraditional fishing boats on the beach of OuidahGran Popo - the Beninese beach paradise
The first episodes 1, 2 and 5 are great for anyone to watch. Episode 3 did drag a little and probably wouldn't hold the attention of younger children. Episode 4 with the voodoo ceremonies may actually be disturbing for younger children with the women falling into trances and the chicken sacrifice. I do wish there were just a few more explanations during the voodoo ceremony, however I also feel fortunate Chris was able to film the ceremony and allow us to view it.
The cost of this DVD documentary is $25 and all profits from the documentary go back to the Beninese people in the DVD. You can go to Chris's site Fon is Fun
for more information about Discovering Benin, West Africa
Chris details how the profits have helped people in Benin with education expenses, medical expenses, mosquito netting, a new roof, and more. You can read his yearly updates here - How the profits from the sale of the DVDs and donations are used
This copy of "Discovering Benin West Africa" was purchased by me with my own funds.