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July 28–August 3, 2017

Chicago Premiere

The Skyjacker's Tale

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Film still: The Skyjacker's Tale
"Shocking and powerfully absorbing"
  —Los Angeles Times
"An entertainingly kitschy version of an Errol Morris film"
  —Village Voice
"An engrossing account of a story that is as relevant as ever"
  —Chicago Reader

Forty-four years ago, the small island of St. Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands, was rocked by brutal murders at an opulent country club catering to oil executives and tourists. Dubbed the Fountain Valley Massacre, (seven of the eight victims were wealthy white people). the killings put the entire island on lockdown, and unsurprisingly, the culprits eventually identified by police were politicized young islanders. After a contentious trial (where the men were represented by noted civil rights activist William Kunstler), all of the defendants were convicted. Chances are they would have been long forgotten had not Ishmael Muslim Ali (formerly named Ronald LaBeet), the group's ostensible leader, hijacked a plane and taken asylum in Cuba in 1984, where he still lives today.

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. However, most of the money did not trickle down to the actual inhabitants of the island, fuelling enormous resentment among the populace that was met by a draconian response from the government.

In a story that is more relevant than ever with racially charged police brutality and injustice constantly in the headlines, The Skyjacker's Tale captures LaBeet/Ali's first interview since the hijacking and includes never-before-seen footage. (Toronto International Film Festival)

Directed by Jamie Kastner, Canada, 2016, 76 mins.


  • Fri., July 28 at 6:30 & 8 pm
  • Sat., July 29 at 4:45, 6:30 & 8 pm
  • Sun., July 30 at 4:45 & 6:30 pm
  • Tues.–Thurs. Aug. 1–3 at 6:30 & 8 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation