Machetes: In the annals of popular culture, they’re usually the tools of slasher-flick villains, meant to lop off a digit or slash a jugular. But across the Caribbean and beyond, they’re far less sinister and much more multi-purpose. And for some who grew up in the islands, like musician and journalist Jason Jeffers, they remain an object of fascination even after emigration from the homeland.
That’s why he joined with two friends–Keisha Rae Witherspoon and Jonathan David Kane–as well as another small crack team to make the new short film Papa Machete. Focused on one man outside of Jacmel, Haiti–“Professor” Alfred Avril–it traces the dying art of tire machet, or Haitian machete fencing.
The upcoming release of the film (and a fundraising Kickstarter campaign around it) represents an effort to both preserve this martial art, and to help Avril get by in his day-to-day life. Check out our interview with Jeffers and Kane for more on Papa Machete himself, the origins of tire machet, and the deadly art of Haitian machete fencing.