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Haiti Film Fest 2017 Recap!

06.08.17

Haiti Film Fest 2017

By Destiny Jackson – Communications & Outreach Coordinator

Through over 25 shorts, documentaries and narrative features in just four days, Haiti Film Fest 2017 was an epic cinematic adventure! It was wonderful to see so many members of the HCX community, and new faces as well, at the festival’s screenings, panels and networking receptions. A special thank you the filmmakers as well as our funders, Advisory Committee Members, Opening Night Host Committee and Media partners, panel moderators, and volunteers. This biennial festival would not be possible without your generous support. Take a look below for a full recap of the 2017 festival and click here to view the full film fest schedule.

Opening Night Fundraiser

 

18518287_10155090410561830_1735844618251375886_oWe kicked off the festival on Thursday, May 11th with our Opening Night Fundraiser at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The event was hosted by Midwin Charles, founder of the law firm Midwin Charles & Associates LLC and a Contributor at Essence Magazine. Doors opened at 7PM and as guests entered the venue they posed for our photographers Claire J. Saintil and Liz Gauthier, and were treated to a Haiti Film Fest tote bag, complimentary cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres.

The event started off with The Last Haiti: The Moving Portraits by Steven Baboun and a sneak peek of Tezen by Shirley Bruno. Both films are phenomenal representations of Haitian cinema and set the stage for the many screenings that would follow in the days to come. Next, we awarded the honorees of the night: Rachelle Salnave, Jimmy Jean-Louis, and Arnold Antonin. While accepting their awards, Salnave spoke passionately about the importance of creating content that exposes the beauty of Haiti and Antonin expressed the difficulties of creating films in the Haitian context and thanked HCX for its support in the dissemination of Haitian films. Unfortunately, Jean-Louis was unable to be in attendance due to an unforseen contractual obligation, but photographer Marc Baptiste accepted the honor on his behalf, and thanks to technology Jean-Louis was able to share a few words via video chat. During his speech, he emphasized the importance of finding ways to support young Haitian artists and their dreams because he would not be where he is today without the support of others.

The event ended with a few words from Paul Beaubrun, a Haitian musician who emphasized the importance of organizations such as HCX whose support of artists allows opportunities such as his touring with Ms. Lauryn Hill. He stated that the local support he received from HCX is what has allowed him to take his musical career to a global level – and encouraged attendees to donate to HCX in order to support organizations artists of Haiti and the Diaspora. Following the event, the afterparty took place at the Alamo’s House of Wax where guests mingled and celebrated the kickoff to Haiti Film Fest 2017 until the wee hours of the morning!

Evening of Shorts  

 

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Five Myles Gallery was packed for our Friday night Evening of Shorts, a night dedicated to supporting young and emerging filmmakers. The event was filled with enchanting short films that delivered big messages. From the excitement of young love to the pain of family separation – each film showcased universal human themes that were infused with the unique spirit of Haitian culture.

The night started off with Christie Koralane Augustin’s Carpe Diem, a lighthearted romantic comedy about a young man named Andre who has a crush on a lovely librarian named Sasha. The film scored many laughs with the audience and stirred up nostalgic feelings of being young and in love. Next, was the art film, The Last Haiti: The Moving Portraits by Steven Baboun, the film showcased beautiful and emotion filled “moving portraits” of Haitians and Haiti. Following that were the docu-shorts, Toussaint Louverture: Miroie d’une Societe by Pierre Lucson Bellegarde and Haiti is A Nation of Artists by Jacquil Constant, the first provided the audience with a quick, in-depth glimpse into the world of the famous Haitian leader and the latter exposed the beauty and culture of Haiti through the eyes of artists.  After that was, Elegy for Stivenson Magloire by Edouard Eloi & Shalom Gorewitz, this short focused on the paintings and life contours of the Haitian artist, Stivenson Magloire. Up next was Rosario Lacroix’s Valiz La, a lighthearted modern silent short that takes us on fun adventure through the streets of Haiti, as we follow the travels of a magical bag. Trailing that was, Taking Chance by Jerry Lamothe and Haitian Son by Marc-Eddy Loriston, both films explored themes related to the difficulty of living in an urban area and having to make life altering decisions for survival. And then there was the film, Baldwin’s Prophecy by Richard Louissaint, narrated by James Baldwin this short gave the audience a dance interpretation of the mental impressions that happen when interacting with police enforcement. After that, the audience was taken on an emotional rollercoaster with the short, Les Pleureurs by Michelle Marrion; the short focuses on a hired crier who has trouble emoting due to her traumatic past. And rounding out the evening was Minutes to Say Hi by Easmanie Michel and See(ah) by André M. Zachary – Michel’s film showed the point-of-view of a child having to adjust to a new life in Brooklyn after leaving Haiti and Zachary’s film captures the beauty of the Crown Heights and conflicted feelings around so-called progress in the community through the lens of a seer woman.

We ended the evening with a networking reception at Franklin Park, where guests were able to network with the creators of the films.

Documentary Filmmaking in Haiti 

 

18556470_10155090366131830_6451666615784655001_oSaturday, May 13th was dedicated to Documentary Filmmaking in Haiti! Although there was a rainstorm, that did not stop many from coming to enjoy the diverse documentaries we had lined up that day at St. Francis College. The first half of the day was filled with the following four New York premieres whose film topics ranged from the importance of taking care of the environment to the power of music to transform lives:

La Déchirure by Feguenson Hermogène

El Violinista by Richard Sénéchal

De Kiskeya a Haiti : Mais Où Sont Passés Nos Arbres by Mario L. Delatour

La Dérive Douce D’un Enfant de Petit Goave by Pedro Ruiz

Following that, we had a keynote discussion featuring Arnold Antonin, a prolific Haitian film director, who is known for his social, political and cultural commitment to Haiti. The panel was hosted by digital content creator, Frtiz Archer and also included filmmakers Rachèle Magloire and Jacquil Constant. After the panel discussion held a special tribute to Arnold Anotonin’s films, including Faiseur de Fanaux, Courage de Femme; Benita et Merina, Herby, le Jazz et la Musique Haïtienne and the New York premiere of Rene Depestre On Ne Rate Pas Une Vie Eternelle.

Haiti Film Fest Closing Day

 

IMG_3256We ended the Haiti Film Fest 2017 with a bang! For the Closing Day, we screened six films and had two filmmaker panel discussions. The first filmmaker panel discussion was moderated by multimedia journalist, Manolia Charlotin and included three powerhouse women in cinema: Guetty Felin, Shirley Bruno and Christy McGill. The second filmmaker panel discussion focused on the experiences of immigration across the Haitian diaspora and its portrayal in cinema, the panel was moderated by Alice Backer and included Jean Jean, Rachèle Magloire, Tyler Johnson and Papa Jah. Below is a list of the films that screened for the festival’s Closing Day:

Serenade for Haiti by Owsley Brown

Tezin by Shirley Bruno

Ayiti Mon Amour by Guetty Felin

My Father’s Land by Miquel Galofre & Tyler Johnson

Si Bondye Vle, Yuli by Jean Jean

The Empty Box by Claudia Santa-Luce

Thank you to everyone who came out and showed support – none of this would be possible without you.

Click here to take a look through the Haiti Film Fest 2017 photos.

The 4th Biennial Haiti Film Fest took place May 11-14, 2017.

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Sip and Paint: Pawòl Granmoun

03.30.17

By Nathalie Jolivert, Communications and Outreach Coordinator at HCX

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For the series of Black History Month events at Haiti Cultural Exchange, I had the opportunity to lead a Sip and Paint session on Haitian Creole Proverbs. This workshop took place at the cozy Haitian-owned lounge ’33 Lafayette’ in Brooklyn.

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Haitian Creole Proverbs are very visual expressions that are learned orally from generation to generation. In the Haitian culture, if you want to be well understood, ending your argument with a proverb could easily settle the discussion. During this event, guests learned about a few of those iconic expressions and were challenged to come up with their own visual interpretation.

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“Piti piti, zwazo fe nich li” = “Little by little the bird builds its nest”, this proverb resonated to one of the guests who had just moved to New York. While she felt that it would take time for her to adapt in the Big Apple, building her nest, step by step, seemed like a wise approach.

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The proverb “Dèyè mòn gen mòn” = “Mountains beyond Mountains” usually refers to endless challenges in Haiti, but for Erika Pettersen, HCX’s Director of Development and Communications, this proverb could also speak about opportunities. For her painting, she first started with a simple rendition of grayscale hills which became colorful as they reached the horizon.

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Although most of the guests claimed that they had little visual-artistic background, their sense of composition, their attention and genuine interest for the meaning of those Haitian proverbs resulted in appealing paintings. It was a pleasure for me to work with them and in return expand my own understanding of the wisdom in those expressions.

About the author:

Nathalie Jolivert is a Haitian architect and artist who lives and works in NY. Her art is influenced by her interest in urbanism, environmental issues and human relationships. Nathalie studied Fine Arts and Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design.

For more of her work: www.jolivert.com | instagram/jolivert.com

Photography by: Liz Gauthier

Posted in Archive, Arts, Visual Art | No Comments »

Ayiti Toma: The Genesis. To Be Continued.

02.28.17

written by guest author Marie Antoine.

HCX kicked off Black History month with the closing reception and artist talk of the visual arts exhibition Ayiti Toma: The Genesis. The event was hosted at the Haitian owned Tapas Wine Bar and Lounge, 33 Lafayette. The lounge provided a cozy and inviting atmosphere which allowed attendees to attentively absorb the fierce storytelling, history and intricate layers of Haitian liberation as it continues to unfold. Conceptualized and curated by Mahalia Stines a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn and featured two other Haitian women artists: Monique Serres, a realist painter who asserts that the value of art lies in its message and therefore she thoughtfully uses technique including allegory, facial expression or color and form to evoke meaning; and Nathalie Jolivert, a New York based artist whose artwork is influenced by urbanism, environmental issues and human relationships.

Frederica Stines

Each of the women submitted very contrasting pieces, yet the messages of Haitian triumphs, defeats and aspirations were present in each of their works. Stines’ quilted piece Ayiti Toma: Genesis depicts the birth of Haiti starting from Langinen (the Motherland) to the declaration of Independence in 1804. She also stated during the talk, that the piece is a work in progress holding space for developments in the nation’s plight to achieve liberation. Stines is a natural and captivating storyteller, her quilt includes details that bring to life the various states of anguish that the ancestors lived through; from the atrocious and cramped spaces of the slave ships to the fiery scenes of the bloodshed during the rebellion.Fittingly the opening of the exhibit took place on January 1st commemorating Haiti’s 214th year of independence and the show ended in February during the celebration of Black history month in the United States. Timing was not the only well-thought out facet of the show, Stines’ was intentional in every aspect of creating Ayiti Toma. Firstly she only featured female artists. She did so in order to address that although women played crucial roles in the Haitian revolution they are not given the necessary recognition that is warranted.

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From my perspective, the most poignant scene from Stines’ narrative of her quilt is when she told of the slaves’ gazing up at the stars when they were given an opportunity to move from the constricted space they occupied to allow blood to circulate in their bodies. To imagine the ancestors gazing up at the stars triggered a peculiar emotion within me. Often times history can be difficult to grasp, especially a history that is so full of atrocities, covering a long span of time and that affected a huge population. It is easy to focus only on the facts and the dates when studying history and in doing so it makes it possible to disconnect from the reality of historical events on human life, therefore incorporating small details that capture the humanity in history is crucial. I was pleased that Stines presented such a comprehensive retelling of the genesis of Ayiti Toma.

Monique Serres Painting

Similarly Serres’ piece of a woman living in a tent city in Port-Au-Prince (PAP) after the earthquake in 2010 was also impactful in the way it portrayed one reality of those who were affected. During the talk Serres stated that she had not been back to Haiti after the earthquake, a fact that surprised me because of the layers of truth she conjured up while creating her piece. At first glance it was apparent that Serres did not paint a subject in despair, in fact the woman in the painting looks dignified in her bright yellow shirt and red dangly earrings which match the bag she is holding in her hand. Deliberately so on the artist’s part, the woman’s presence captured my attention first. However when my eyes started averting to the collapsed presidential palace in the backdrop and then to the American rice laying on the ground inches from her foot I started to get a different picture. Furthermore as the spectator, I do not know if she has been living in that tent a few weeks to a year or more, so it becomes clear why it is necessary that this woman keeps her head up. This attitude of not giving into despair but instead trying to rise above is how Haitians were accorded the term resilient.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary resilient means being able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Starting with slavery, through the revolution and the following years of political and environmental issues; Haitians are in a consistent state of recovery. However the consistency of the unrest does not allow for full recovery. Instead Haitians have become a depository for the negative impacts of the persistent assault on Haitian land, Haitian bodies and Haitian psyche. The result is what Nathalie Jolivert touches on in many of her works, which portray the urban landscape and live figures of Port-Au-Prince.

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During the talk, one of the attendees noticed that the human figures in Jolivert’s art do not have eyes. Her answer — it symbolizes the invisibility that the masses in PAP embody. She explains further by describing the scene in the tap-taps (a form of public transportation in Haiti) where there is seldom eye contact; she also describes the nameless merchant women who are only classified by the products that they sale e.g the charcoal vendor or the fritay vendor. She paints the figures without eyes in order to stimulate conversation as an attempt to give voice to the reality of the implicit and marginalized aches of the masses in PAP. And also of the distress linked to the poor infrastructure and landscape of the city. One of her strengths as an artist is that Jolivert is not politically correct, therefore she does not dilute the truth of her observations and experiences of living in Haiti.

I left Ayiti Toma: Genesis more knowledgeable of Haitian history than when I walked in. I left inspired by the audacity of Haitian blood. And I left motivated by these three women creatives who are making sure their voices are heard deliberately, passionately and with authority.

About the Author, Marie Antoine 

Marie Antoine
Marie Antoine is a Haitian born holistic counselor and
aspiring entrepreneur based in Brooklyn,NY.  
Her ultimate goal is to use her education
and experience in social work to work in community building in Haiti.

 

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Lakay se Lakay “Home Sweet Home”| Lakou NOU presentation by Sabine Blaizin

02.27.17

As a Lakou NOU artist in residence, Sabine Blaizin, DJ and community organizer, worked in the neighborhood of Crown Heights and focused on the impact of gentrification on its Haitian-American community.

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For the first part of her project, Sabine collaborated with Storycorps, an organization that broadcasts stories recorded between two participants as they interview each other. Those stories are then archived at the Library of Congress and made accessible to the public. Sabine reached out to current and past residents of Crown-Heights whom she hosted at Haiti Cultural Exchange with Storycorps, over Haitian tea and hors d’oeuvres generously donated by Grandchamps Restaurant.

The second part of Sabine’s project was an installation at FiveMyles Gallery in which she deconstructed elements of a traditional lakou to create an experimental atmosphere around the projection of pictures and sounds from the interviews recorded with Storycorps.

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An ephemeral cube made out of white draping, same as the garment worn by women during Vodoun ceremonies, served as the sacred space in which Sabine projected the stories of her interviewees. As you entered the cube, you could see colorful ribbons hanging from above, on strings woven through the wooden grid of the gallery’s ceiling. Within the cube, Mahalia Stines, a Brooklyn-based Vodoun priestess and long-time HCX collaborator, drew an intricate Erzulie Freda vèvè with pink cornmeal that contrasted well with the grey floor of FiveMyles gallery. Next to it, Sabine also placed a table adorned with objects usually found on Vodoun altars.

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On the day of this event, guests trickled into the gallery as Okai, another Lakou NOU artist in residence, played his drums. They ventured into the white space, absorbed the stories of Crown-Heights’ rapid gentrification and together seemed to apprehend and mourn the disappearance of Haitian culture exhibited within the cube.

Posted in Archive, Events, Lakou NOU | No Comments »

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