Archive: An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with filmmaker Michele Stephenson

This review is written by Marsha Laconte, an attendee of our Cafe Conversation with Michele Stephenson.

I leave work early on Tuesday, September 28, to attend An n’ Palé: aninspiring dialogue held once a month by Haiti Cultural Exchange. I arrive around 5:45 pm at Shop Talk Art, located at 35 Lafayette in Fort Green. The Art gallery has been transformed into a movie theater with rows of pliable chairs and a large movie screen. I make small talk with friends and meet new ones while enjoying the Brie, Chardonnay and other delicacies deliciously spread on a table placed by the entrance.

I came to see “Haiti: One Day, One Destiny,” a work in progress by the Haitian born filmmaker Michèle Stephenson. I have never seen any of Stephenson’s films or documentaries but I have heard and read a lot about her and her production company, Rada Film Group. By 6:15 the house is full and the host, Régine Roumain, invites her audience to take a seat. She introduces the guest of honor and gracefully mentions her long list of accomplishments: SilverDocs International Documentary Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, ABFF, Best Documentary, PATOIS: The New Orleans Human Rights Film Festival; Best Short Film, Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color, amongst others.

By 6:30 pm the doors of the gallery are closed, the lights are dimmed and the screen is given life. The images presented are compelling, intimate, touching and heart breaking, but hopeful. The portraits are that of remarkable individuals on the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. A Voudou priest, a law student, a medical student and others. They narrate their experiences during the catastrophe. They mention the friends and family they have lost or thought they lost. They stress what they believe can be done; what they are doing. They offer their daily lives as proof to their commitment to situations that feel at times insurmountable. The Voudou priest insists on the idea of collaboration and that of being one people regardless of one’s religious affiliation. The law student
does his rounds, checking on earthquake victims in a neighborhood assigned to him by an organization he belongs to. The medical student surmounts the pain of losing her mother to care for hundreds of patients.

The captivating stories navigating between Port-au-Prince and the border with Dominican Republic convince me that I am not watching a simple news story. The documentary is committed to giving center stage to the different angles that the media does not care for. By 7:30 the screening is over and I feel that it ended too soon. I am thirsty for more and impatiently await its debut on AfroPop.org. By 8:30, after the Q and A I have persuaded myself that I know the filmmaker Michèle Stephenson: a militant with sincere and objectives eyes.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 11:26 am and is filed under An n' Pale, Archive, Events, Film, HCX Programs, Public Forums, Visual Art. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.