Massacre River: The Woman Without a Country

What happens when you are left stateless due to a reverse in birthright citizenship?

Hispaniola residents left countryless
NETA Presentation
Premiere Date
September 28, 2019
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Suzan Beraza

Born in Jamaica and raised in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, social and environmental issues pervade Suzan's work. Her films have appeared on National Public Television, Pivot TV and on the Documentary Channel, at Lincoln Center, and have won over twenty festival awards. Her first film, Bag It, was honored as a winner of the BritDoc Impact Award in Show more Berlin, and has been televised in over thirty countries. Her latest project, Uranium Drive-In, was a recipient of Sundance Institute and Chicken and Egg funding and was featured at Good Pitch and at Hot Docs Pitch Forum. The film is currently being broadcast on Pivot TV (Participant Media) and was honored for documentary excellence by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Her current project, Massacre River (working title), was recently selected for the Camden International Film Festival Points North Fellowship, and was featured at this past IFP Spotlight on Documentaries, Hot Docs Deal Maker, and the Latino Media Market. Show less

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The Film

This character-driven documentary that takes place in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, two ethnically and culturally distinct countries that have been forced to share an island since colonial times. The film follows Pikilina, a Dominican-born woman of Haitian descent, and her family. Racial and political violence erupt when the country of her birth, the Dominican Republic, reverses its birthright citizenship law and she is left stateless, along with 250,000 others. With the stroke of a pen, generations of people are left without a homeland. This sets Pikilina off on an epic journey as she struggles to regain her Dominican citizenship. Pikilina now faces the choice of fighting for her rightful citizenship and exposing herself to danger, or fleeing with her family to Haiti, a country she barely knows. In a country already rife with racism, this contentious law further stokes an atmosphere of distrust and animosity between Dominicans and Haitians, and gives tacit official support for xenophobia.