Haiti On Screen
Saturday, April 24, Friday April 30, and Saturday May 1, 2010
Northwestern University, Block Cinema and Forum Room, Northwestern University Library
In the weeks since the apocalyptic disaster that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left countless wounded and homeless, Haiti has been made visible to Western eyes primarily as a suffering, dying body, a victim once again of chance, poverty, and underdevelopment. In response to the tragedy and to the general vacuum of knowledge about Haiti that it has exposed, this series will project instead a number of provocative images produced by, for, or about Haitians in the two decades prior to the earthquake. It seeks to raise awareness about the country’s history, cultural traditions, contemporary geopolitical predicament, and struggle for democracy, and to open up a dialogue about the future of cultural expression in Haiti. Films include the Chicago premiere of internationally renowned Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s latest feature — “Moloch Tropical” —and several award-winning documentaries on Haitian visual arts, literature, religion, politics and society by Arnold Antonin, Laurence Magloire, Annie Lescot, Jonathan Demme, Irène Lichtenstein, Renée Bergan, and Mark Schuller. The series will conclude with a roundtable discussion featuring special guests Ludovic Comeau, William Balan-Gaubert, and Scott Durham.
Films will be screened in French, Creole and English, with English subtitles, and all screenings are free and open to the public. A detailed map of campus is available, as well as driving directions to the Evanston campus.
Additional information can be found at the Block Cinema.
Schedule of Screenings:
Saturday, April 24:
Location: Block Cinema, Northwestern University, Evanston Campus
2:00 Jacques Roumain: Passion for a Country (Arnold Antonin, 2008, Haiti, color, DVD, 111 minutes)
Friday, April 30:
Location: Block Cinema, Northwestern University, Evanston Campus
5:00 Man by the Shore (Raoul Peck, 1993, France/Haiti, color, 106 minutes)
7:00 Moloch Tropical (Raoul Peck, 2009, France/Haiti, color, 107 minutes)
Saturday, May 1
Location: Forum Room, Northwestern University Library, Evanston Campus
10:00 am Tiga: Haiti, Dream, Possession, Creation, Folly (Arnold Antonin, 2004, Haiti, color, DVD, 52 minutes)
11:00 Mario Benjamin (Irène Lichtenstein, 2008, Switzerland/Haiti, color, DVD, 53 minutes)
Location: Block Cinema
12:30 Of Men and Gods (Laurence Magloire and Anne Lescot, 2002, Haiti, color, Beta SP, 52 minutes)
1:30 Poto Mitan (Renée Bergan and Mark Schuller, 2009, USA/Haiti, color, Beta SP, 50 minutes)
2:30 The Agronomist (Jonathan Demme, 2002, USA/Haiti, color, 90 minutes)
Location: Kaplan Center, Kresge Hall Room 2-380
4:15 Roundtable discussion, with invited guests Ludovic Comeau, William Balan-Gaubert, and Scott Durham. Moderated by Doris Garraway
Program notes (in order of appearance):
Jacques Roumain: Passion for a Country (Arnold Antonin, 2008, Haiti, color, DVD, 111 minutes)
This exploration of Haitian society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries focuses on the tormented life of one of Haiti’s most important authors and prominent political figures, Jacques Roumain, who has been called “the philosopher of hope.” The film recounts Roumain’s coming of age during the first U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934, and examines the political, intellectual, and ideological influences that shaped his work and that of the indigenist movement in post-occupation Haiti. It is based on original footage and recreations, and narrated through Roumain’s personal correspondence and literary works. Winner Paul Robeson Award FESPACO 2009. Official selection, African Diaspora Film Festival 2008.
Man by the Shore (Raoul Peck, 1993, France/Haiti, color, 106 minutes)
Terror inflicted by the Tonton Macoute (the private secret police of dictator Papa Doc Duvalier in the sixties) haunts the small Haitian town where eight-year-old Sarah lives. When the police target Sarah’s father, her parents are forced to flee, leaving Sarah and her sisters in the care of a convent, but they are later taken in by their feisty grandmother. Through this compelling family drama, director Raoul Peck, who later became Haiti’s Minister of Culture, portrays the powerful resilience of ordinary Haitians in the face of state oppression. Nominated for the Golden Palm award at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
Moloch Tropical (Raoul Peck, 2009, France/Haiti, color, 107 minutes)
Inspired by Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov’s Moloch (which imagines Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun at their secluded Bavarian hideaway), Peck’s story focuses on a Haitian president who finds himself the object of popular protest but cannot face the inevitability of his fall from power. Filmed at the Citadelle Henri, the spectacular if enigmatic fortress built by Haiti's erstwhile King Christophe in the 1810s, Peck explores the temptations and contradictions of political power, evoking controversial references to contemporary Haiti. Co-written by Haitian playwright Jean-René Lemoine, the film strikes notes of Shakespearian tragedy. Chicago premiere!
Tiga: Haïti, Dream, Possession, Creation, Folly (Arnold Antonin, 2001, Haiti, color, video, 52 minutes)
This film examines the life and work of Haitian artist Jean-Claude ‘Tiga’ Garoute. A total artist working in all genres including painting, sculpture, music, literature, dance, and theater, Tiga is considered by some to be one of the greatest artists in all of the Caribbean. An artist-philosopher, his dream is to help all the people of his island find the hidden creator within themselves and thus become free. In his multidisciplinary, multimedia works, and in his artistic theories, he integrates elements of vaudou, surrealism, and dada. This film explores the many faces of Tiga and the art he created in the image of Haiti.
Mario Benjamin (Irène Lichtenstein, 2008, Switzerland/Haiti, color, DVD, 53 minutes)
This film explores the life, work and creative process of Mario Benjamin, the leading contemporary artist in Haiti. Invited to take part in major events like the Biennial of Venice, Kwangju, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg and various prestigious exhibitions in the United States, Mario Benjamin has acquired international stature. This film explores his powerful, magical, and disturbing works, as well as the impact of manic depression on his creativity. Around an exhibition that took place in Port-au-Prince in June 2008, this charismatic man shares his thoughts on his work and the difficulty in being an artist in a “Third World” country. Winner Best Long Documentary, International Festival of Black Film, Montréal 2009.
Of Men and Gods (Laurence Magloire and Anne Lescot, 2002, Haiti, Digital video, 52 minutes)
A frank look at a largely unexplored area, Of Men And Gods examines the daily existence of several Haitian men who are openly gay. Prevalent, yet still taboo, homosexuality and gay culture are allowed to flourish within the context of Haiti's Vohdou religion. As "children of the gods," the men find an explanation for homosexuality as well as divine protection. They also find an outlet for theatrical expression through exhilarating performances in which they embody the gods. Anne Lescot is an anthropologist who has studied Haitian Vodou for ten years and Laurence Magloire has worked in the field of television. Winner Chantal Lapaire Award, Vues d'Afrique, Montreal, Canada, 2002. (Documentary Educational Resources)
The Agronomist (Jonathan Demme, 2002, USA/Haiti, 90 minutes).
A documentary about the life of Jean Dominique, who was, until his murder in 2000, head of the only independent radio station in Haiti and a brave and tireless voice for democracy and human rights in Haiti. Against the backdrop of the dramatic shifts in Haiti’s political climate in the last two decades between authoritarianism, violence, and democracy, the film portrays Dominique’s extraordinary charisma and his heroic struggle to sustain a free press in Haiti despite multiple threats and repeated exiles. Jonathan Demme interviewed Mr. Dominique and his wife, Michelle Montas, both in Haiti and during periods of exile in New York, and these conversations give "The Agronomist" a lively immediacy unusual in documentaries of its kind. Winner, Gotham Award for Best Documentary, 2004.
Poto-mitan (Renée Bergan and Mark Schuller, 2009, USA/Haiti, BetaSP, 50 minutes)
Told through the compelling lives of five Haitian women workers and narrated by Edwidge Danticat, Poto Mitan is a critique of some of the unanticipated consequences of the global economy in Haiti. Each woman’s personal story offers a perspective on neoliberal globalization, how it is gendered, and how it has impacted Haiti’s already poor working/living conditions, economic circumstances, and access to education and health care. Through their collective activism, these women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible. Winner Indie Spec Best Documentary Award, Boston International Film Festival 2009.
Roundtable Participant Bios:
William L. Balan-Gaubert is a Haitian activist and independent scholar who received a PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is also a representative of the Global Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He has published articles on Haitian politics in such journals as Journal of Haitian Studies, and has contributed to the Dictionary of Haitian Creole verbs with phrases and idioms, by Emmanuel Védrine.
Ludovic Comeau Jr is Associate Professor at the School for New Learning at DePaul University and Director of the School for New Learning's Programs at the O'Hare Campus. He holds MA degrees in finance, French Literature, and Law, and received a Ph.D. in Business Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was the chief economist of Haiti's Central Bank in the 1990s and currently conducts research on the political economy of economic growth. He recently worked with the Haitian diaspora community to draft a development plan to present to the Haiti donors' conference that took place at on March 31, 2010 at UN headquarters in New York.
Scott Durham is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of French and Italian. His main interests are in 20th- and 21st-century literature, film, and theory, with particular emphasis on Foucault, Deleuze, and the Marxist critical tradition. He is the author of Phantom Communities: The Simulacrum and the Limits of Postmodernism (Stanford University Press, 1998) and is currently writing two books, tentatively titled Historicity, Memory and Untimeliness in Postmodern Film and Deleuze and the Resistance to Postmodernism. Among his most recent publications are articles on the films of Michael Haneke and on Abderrahmane Sissako's film Bamako. He has also done collaborative work with filmmaker Jeffrey Skoller on his film, The Promise of Happiness.Doris L. Garraway is Associate Professor of French at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching interests include French Caribbean and Haitian literature and historiography, colonialism and slavery in the French Caribbean, the Haitian Revolution, and early modern French literature. She is the author of The Libertine Colony: Creolization in the Early French Caribbean (Duke, 2005; reprint 2008) and the editor of Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (University of Virginia, 2008). She has published numerous articles on Caribbean and French Enlightenment literature and in October 2004 she organized an international symposium at Northwestern entitled "The Haitian Revolution: History, Memory, Representation."
Organized by Doris Garraway and Christiane Rey, Department of French and Italian, with Dominique Licops (French and Italian) and Mimi Brody (The Block Museum)
Co-sponsored by the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, the Department of Radio/TV/Film, the Screen Cultures Program, the Department of History, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program
From the North (via I-94)
From the West/Northwest (via I-88, I-90 or I-190)
From the West/Southwest (via I-55 or I-80)
Note: If taking I-80, go east to I-55 North
From the South/Southeast (via I-94, I-90, I-80 or I-57)