Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

A Screening of Cristo Rey & Purgatorio – by Keylah Mellon, HCX Communications & Outreach Intern

12.22.15

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BAM’s Peter Jay Sharp building was filled with a diverse crowd on Thursday, December 3rd for the screening of Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s Cristo Rey. Co-Presented by the Caribbean Film Academy and BAMcinematek, the main feature was preceded by a poignant short film, Pugatorio, by Haitian director Martine Jean.

Beautifully shot with deep vibrant colors and contrasts, the 12-minute movie revolves around Rosa Jean Louis and her daughter Soledad as they are questioned in a Dominican immigration office about their nationality and the authenticity of their papers despite being born in Dajabon. After being humiliated and degraded based on her Haitian sounding name and separated from her daughter, the film ends with her deportation and her crossing the border towards Haiti, a state that she knows nothing of.

While the latter film presents this almost inhumane facet of deportation in the strained Haitian-Dominican relations, Cristo Rey approaches this delicate subject in a different way.

Taking place in the slum of Cristo Rey, the story begins with Janvier, a first generation Haitian-Dominican (his mother is Haitian and father Dominican). The town is stricken by poverty, as well as an intense divide between Haitian immigrants and Dominicans, and is ruled by the drug lord El Baca.

The feature really explores and examines various aspects of what tarnishes the relationship between the people of Hispaniola: racism, prejudice, poverty, and most importantly misunderstanding.

The screening was followed by a discussion led by filmmaker Michèle Stephenson and Cristo Rey’s Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua. The most common comment was on the authenticity of the depections and Paniagua’s beautiful eye. HCX thanks all of those that came out to the screening! Special thanks to CAFA, and BAMCinématek.

Take a look at some photos here.

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, Film, HCX Collaborations, Visual Art | No Comments »

Mesye, Dam, la Sosyete, Krik? Krak! – By Keylah Mellon, HCX Communications & Outreach Intern

11.11.15

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The transmission of customs and beliefs is vital to the sustainability of a culture. Cultural activist Allenby Augustin, of Haiti based cultural organization Akoustik Prod, joined us for a week-long arts residency where he engaged a number of artists of the Haitian Diaspora and kids of our afterschool youth arts engagement program at PS 189 in the mission of his organization: the preservation and promotion of Haitian traditional arts. The workshops led to our exhilarating event, Bann Konte: a Rara Storytelling Procession.

On a beautiful fall afternoon, the Crown Heights community gathered to celebrate the Haitian tradition of oral storytelling, songs and games. The program began at FiveMyles Gallery with Djarara, the low rumbling of drums, and the calling of the Konè. The storytellers followed with chanting “Legba nan Bayè a”, accompanied by the musicians and a very enthusiastic crowd.

A woman in a bright red dress took center stage: “Mesye, dam, la sosyete, Krik? Krak! My name is Michèle and I have come here to tell you a little story.” After Michèle Voltaire Marcelin’s wonderful tale of Who Will be King in the Republic of Port-au-Prince (spoiler: Haiti Remained without a King), the festive atmosphere of Rara was only accentuated by the demonstration of traditional games including “Wòch Mache” (walking rock) and chants of “Ewa! Ewa!” The procession then left the HCX home base, parading down Eastern Parkway in the mists of joyful dancing and invigorating melodies towards the Brooklyn Public Library.

The crowd was led to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza by an animated Gede-like figure dressed from head to toe in a purple outfit: Goussy Celestin, our second storyteller. She captivated us in her rendition of Mimi Barthelemy’s Ti Fou and the 7 Horn Monster. Allenby Augustin then led participants in a game of “Kash Kash Liben”, a hide and seek type of game where one person stealthily hides a rock amongst the players, while a designated player tries to figures out who has the object.

The last part of the procession headed to Berg’n where Schneider Laurent, Guy Guyt and Lovely Kermonde gave an expressive and intense performance reflecting on Haiti’s political, cultural and social situation, leaving us to ponder as Djarara swayed us with their last performance of the night.

Thank you to Allenby Augustin, Goussy Celestin, Schneider Laurent, Michèle Voltaire Marcelin, our funders! Tradition was the focus with HCX’s Bann Konte and we thank all who attended, came to support and helped take the streets of Crown Heights on Sunday, November 1st with traditional games, folktales and rara music.

Click here to see pictures from the event!

Posted in Archive, Arts, Dance, Events, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Music, Photography, Weekend | No Comments »

Gina Athena Ulysse Makes the Case for Why Haiti Needs New Narratives – by Manolia Charlotin

10.19.15

Gina Ulysse w:bookOn Saturday, September 19, as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, Haiti Cultural Exchange hosted the formidable anthropologist and performance artist, Gina Athena Ulysse, to launch her book tour of the recently published Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle at the Brooklyn Public Library.

The event was a homecoming of sorts. When she migrated to New York City in 1978, her family passed the Brooklyn Public Library on the way to her grandmother’s house.

“Lakou Brooklyn, I’m right here!” Ulysse proclaims excitedly in her opening remarks.

Then she took the audience on a journey, from her Rock n’ Roll dreams to becoming a leading public scholar in the Haitian diaspora. Growing up in the 80s, a difficult time to be Haitian in the U.S., Ulysse had a goal — and she was defiant to the gender expectations set by her parents.

“It was the 1980s. I was an oddball. I loved Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper, Eurythmics, U2 and the Rolling Stones. I was dreaming of becoming a rock star. My father wanted me to do the dishes…

Since I wasn’t averse to other chores, I asked why. ‘You’re a girl,’ he said. ‘So?’ I said back. ‘Your mother does the dishes,’ he said. ‘I am not your wife, I replied. ‘We don’t have a contract. And even she shouldn’t have to do your dishes.’

This, of course, made us enemies for weeks. Such answers were typical of me. They made me very un-Haitian and eventually marked me as the one who can’t keep her mouth shut and doesn’t care about the consequences of talking back. Click! Silence is a structure of power. Click!”

In the midst of laughter from the auditorium, Ulysse wraps her reading of this first essay.

“I became an academic; the next best thing,” she deadpans.

She became an academic to explain Haiti to people. But as a Haitian-American navigating the challenging terrain of learning a new culture, a new way to be in a new world, Ulysse had to define her identity on her terms.

“Haiti was my point of departure… and Haitians, have always been plural to me.”

This perspective would prove to be useful, and many times necessary, in her academic and media interventions.

“I was adamant about this book being in three languages because it needs to be accessible.”

Why Haiti Needs New Narratives opens with an essay published in Huffington Post (the day before the earthquake) about a major Hollywood movie.

“Avatar is not just another white-man-save-the-day movie. As a black woman and a cultural anthropologist born in Haiti, I had doubts about the depiction of race in the film…

The movements, setting, altar, offerings. Communion with nature. All beings are interconnected. The NaVi do not distinguish between themselves and their environment. We came back to the tree.

In Haitian Vodou ecology, trees have always been sacred. They are significant in rituals as they are inhabited by spirits. Rapid deforestation of the island has impacted worship. In overpopulated urban settings, practitioners are living in what one scholar recently referred to as ‘post-tree Vodou.’

…New age spirituality with its purported openness may incorporate some African based religious practices especially from Latin America, but (Haitian) Vodou remains stigmatized therein especially in interfaith circles. Although a growing number of initiates are whites, few multi-denominational churches dare to acknowledge it. Cultural specificities aside, Vodou shares core features spirits, nature, ceremonies and offerings — with other mystical religions. Avatar is a reminder of the hierarchy within alternative religions.”

But her analysis didn’t stop there.

“The clash of cultures and races is an easy way for moviemakers to explore personal transformation. In too many films, dark bodies have systematically been the catalyst for white salvation. Avatar forces us to confront these contradictions as we wait for the epic film that has yet to be made — one that tells the natives-meets-white-men story from their perspective.”

And that is the core of Ulysse’s argument for new and diverse narratives.

From there, the book delves into the aftermath of the earthquake, including inadequate distribution of aid, inhumane conditions suffered in makeshift tent encampments, violence against women, tumultuous elections and an insightful analysis of the corporate media’s negative portrayal of survivors.

“One of the reasons I’m interested in representation is… Haitians do speak for themselves.

She closes with the final essay in the book, “Loving Haiti Beyond the Mystique.”

“I grew up in a country that most of the world degrades and continues to dismiss because it is broken.

…When Haiti attempted to piece itself together two centuries ago, many among those in power at home and abroad took calculated steps to ensure that it would remain shattered. All of my life, I have lived various aspects of the shame of this heritage. I have also been continually reminded I was born in a small place that is devalued and is trampled upon precisely because of its weaknesses. I persevere holding on to knowing my little country dared. It dared to step out of line. It dared to stand up for itself. It dared to try to define itself. It dared.

In the last decade, while struggling to redefine myself in the all-too-hierarchical-world that is the academy, where you are only as good as the person you are better than, I have fought to dare, and not accept labels that were being thrown at me or etched onto me for others need me to fit into a category to be comfortable with me. I resist, insisting that Haiti needs new narratives to explicate its myriad contradictions.”

Click here to take a look at photos from the event.

This An n’ Pale | Café Conversation is a part of our Fall-Winter Season Programming: Revolisyon/Revolution.

For more information on upcoming events, visit: http://haiticulturalx.org/revolisyon

Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Arts, Events, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Literature, Public Forums, Uncategorized, Weekend | No Comments »

A Summer EXPERIENCE to Remember – by Yushabel Lubrun, Brooklyn Youth Fellow

10.14.15

Mizik Ayiti

HCX’s 4th annual summer concert series Mizik Ayiti! concluded with a bang on Thursday, September 2nd, as participants got a chance to get their pre-labor day jam on with the amazing talent of Earthman Experience, and Paul Beaubrun with Zing Experience at DROM in New York city.

As guests made their way to the event, they were treated to an impromptu performance of traditional rara music , setting the mood for the evening. DJ Hard Hitting Harry followed suit with his afro-beat/house playlist. He was later joined by the other members of Earthman Experience, presenting selections that were both spiritual and electrifying. Richard “Earthman” Laurent, his daughter Soleil Laurent and others presented selections which included “Climbing To The Sky”, “Fighting For Life”, and “Bang For Freedom”.

The evening culminated with Paul Beaubrun and Zing Experience. Paul captivated the audience with his rich vocals and his stellar guitar playing. Listeners were blown away with classic pieces such as “Ma Woule”, “Ezili”, and a crowd favorite “Ayizan”. It was truly an experience listening and dancing to the music – a perfect blend between mizik rasin, reggae and rock.

We thank all those who were able to make it out to our final Mizik Ayiti event of 2015!. We hope that you were able to jam with us this summer. Until next year!

Click here to take a look at pictures from the night!

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, HCX Programs, Mizik Ayiti, Music | No Comments »

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