Director: Ross Jordan
Now I’ve come to Belize, a tiny Central American country bordering the Caribbean. With a population of less than 400,000, I wasn’t surprised that choices of locally produced films were pretty limited. There were only two real candidates for this entry: A comedy called Stranded in Dangriga, or a horror film titled 2012: Curse of the Xtabai (no relation to the Roland Emmerich blockbuster). And after a recent streak of films with quite dark subject matter, I decided that a comedy was just what I needed.
Dangriga is a small seaside town located in southern Belize. In the first scene we meet Lonzel, a visiting American TV host who finds himself forced to spend a night in Dangriga due to some roadworks on the highway out of town.
James, a local drum teacher and aspiring musician, takes advantage of this rare opportunity and offers to put Lonzel up for the night. His plan is to impress Lonzel enough with his music to get a recording deal, but there’s a problem – James is jealously protective of his wife Janice, and Lonzel is a notorious womaniser. The solution? James convinces Janice to go out for the night, and pays a waitress to pretend to be his wife in front of Lonzel.
That’s the setup, and the bulk of the film takes place in James’s living room that evening, as he tries to keep up the subterfuge while being a good host and persuading Lonzel to take an interest in his music.
In my last entry I estimated that Man Bites Dog was the lowest budget film I’d written about so far. I think it’s already been overtaken. Stranded in Dangriga is a very modest production that’s obviously aimed at a local Belizean audience first and foremost. There’s a lot of jokes that flew over my head, but presumably make a lot more sense for someone from Dangriga.
The premise is fairly original, and there are laughs to be had in the way it plays out. None of the characters come across as particularly likable, unfortunately. The men in particular are all jealous, creepy, or just plain boneheaded. Comedy can be very culturally-specific though, so it’s hard to tell how much has been lost in translation.
I won’t be too harsh on Stranded in Dangriga, since despite its failings it’s obviously a work of genuine enthusiasm and love. Of course, I’m not really part of its intended audience. And with a short, sharp 75-minute duration, the film doesn’t outstay its welcome, unlike the house-guest depicted in it.
Stranded in Dangriga is available in full on YouTube, or with English subtitles on Vimeo: