Cine Latino: Carpinteros (Woodpeckers)

Directed by José María Cabral (Dominican Republic, 2017)

Part of the Spring 2018 CineLatino Series 

February 21, 2018

A man looks through bars.


Dominican-Haitian Julián begins a jail sentence for petty theft inside the notorious Najayo prison just outside Santo Domingo. While navigating the indignities, corruption and everyday violence from both guards and fellow inmates, he becomes immersed in the system of “Woodpeckers,” the unique sign language the male prisoners use to communicate with women in the adjacent penitentiary just over 400 feet away. Standing in windows or out in prison yards, love – and heated liaisons – blossom.  Shot on location at the actual prison using real inmates for all but the lead roles, it was the first Dominican film to  screen at the Sundance Film Festival. 106 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles.

“José María Cabral’s arresting drama “Woodpeckers (Carpinteros)” could be called love in a pressure cooker, but that would be understating its vivid textures and palpable vitality.” — Andy Webster, The New York Times