Canadian documentarian Jamie Kastner (The Secret Disco Revolution) looks back at a notorious 1970s murder trial in the Virgin Islands — where five politicized young islanders were convicted of a massacre at a ritzy country club — and its dramatic aftermath a decade later, when the culprits’ ostensible leader staged a skyjacking and found refuge in Cuba.
The Skyjacker's Tale
Veteran director Jamie Kastner (The Secret Disco Revolution) digs deep into the events surrounding the murders and subsequent trial, tracking down and interviewing principals on both sides, including Labeet and one of the policemen who apprehended him. What he brings to light radically alters conventional views of the case. The building of an oil refinery by a multinational corporation with strong ties to prominent US businessmen and politicians (including Nelson D. Rockefeller) turned St. Croix into a tourist hotspot. But very little of the money trickled down to the actual inhabitants of the island, fuelling enormous resentment among the populace that was met by a draconian response from the government.
Along the way, Kastner smartly lampoons the pulpy, tabloid style currently fashionable in documentary - with its portentous overtones and unexamined assumptions about race and crime — creating a layered portrait of a past that seems eerily, and sadly, much like our present.