Archive for the ‘Public Forums’ Category

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 »

Remembering 2010 | Film Screening with Associated Press Photojournalist Chery Dieu Nalio – by Keylah Mellon, Communications and Outreach Intern

07.08.15

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In partnership with 651 Arts, Haitian AP Photojournalist, Chery Dieu Nalio shared his craft with the HCX community Tuesday, June 30th. The program commemorated the 2010 earthquake, as Nalio presented his culminating project, Remembering 2010, from his Magnum Fellowship.

Every year the Magnum Foundation offers, in conjunction with NYU, scholarships to a six-week intensive fellowship program to explore strategies for creating effective visual stories with the aim of advancing Human Rights in their home countries. Nalio, now a Magnum Human rights fellow, was chosen amongst a myriad of applicants along with 6 other candidates hailing from Ukraine, Palestine, China, Syria, South Africa and the Philippines.

The evening started with a screening of Michèle Stephenson’s Haiti: One Day, One Destiny, a 20-minute feature on the emotional impact of the quake and the poignant stories of rebuilding efforts from the perspective of Haitians. A slide show of Nalio’s eye catching and carefully composed photography was then presented, followed by Remembering 2010. The 3-minute multi-media feature focused on Stéphanie Joseph, a thriving survivor of the earthquake. Narrated by Joseph, the piece recounts her experience during the disaster, the loss of her mother and her arrival in the United States through Nalio’s amazing eye. Culminating in pictures of Joseph’s graduation from Baruch College, the video ended on an inspiring note and Stephanie’s future plans to return to Haiti to assist with the positive transformation of the country. This opened up the floor for a great Q&A with both Michèle Stephenson and Chery Dieu Nalio. Interesting discussions among the program participants and artists revolved around power & empowerment and its relationship to Vodou, the situation between Haiti & the Dominican Republic, the presence of NGOs in the country, empowering the Haitian people, and the role of community to mention a few. Both films were conversation inducing as great art always is. HCX was very pleased to present Nalio’s work as we strive to give our community significant and inspiring art.

 

 

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, Film, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Photography, Public Forums, Visual Art | No Comments »

June 25th: NAHP “Networking after work” Social Hour Series 

06.02.15

NAHPJoin the National Association of Haitian Professionals (NAHP) on Thursday, June 25th for their New York Social Hour networking event.

From Massachusetts to Miami, the Association will tour a total of five cities along the East Coast to engage both members and non-members interested in career advancement strategies and opportunities. The Series will help cultivate partnerships and increase civic engagement amongst members of the Diaspora and friends of Haiti. Additionally, participants will learn about the Association’s advocacy efforts, philanthropic and social projects directly tied to promoting sustained social and economic success in Haiti.

Click here for more information

DATE/TIME: Thursday, June 25 | 6:00 – 8:30 PM
LOCATION: Kinanm Lounge | 856 Atlantic Ave. | Brooklyn, NY 11238 | MAP
ADMISSION: $10
Click here to purchase tickets.

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Haiti Film Fest 2015 | That’s a wrap! – by Jessica Tong, Programs & Outreach Coordinator

05.20.15

HFF program pic

Cut, print! That’s a wrap!  The third biennial Haiti Film Fest came to a close on May 17, 2015!  Take a look below for a recap of the 2015 festival.  Click here to view the full film fest schedule.

Extending the Film Fest from a long weekend to seven days, the third biennial Haiti Film Fest was full of interesting topics. Screening over 15 films by filmmakers from Haiti, Cuba, the United States and Europe, the festival drew over 1,000 attendees who came to show their support and engage in conversations on pertinent issues affecting the lives of Haitians, both at home and in the Diaspora. Films covered a wide range of topics including the environment, grief, dictatorial regimes, spiritual movements, love, thwarted coups, class and identity, and even Haitian martial arts! Joined by filmmakers, cinephiles, scholars and the overall New York Community, the conversation continued beyond the screening room and into the homes and communities of participants.

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Sanba Zao and Friends performing at DROM NYC for Haiti Film Fest Opening Night

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Left to right: Rachelle Salnave, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Michèle Stephenson, & Ella Turenne

Kicking things off on Thursday, May 7th for the Opening Night of Haiti Film Fest, we returned to DROM NYC for a night of fun, dancing, live music and support.  Our VIP guests were treated to an exclusive pre-reception where they received a complementary Haiti Film Fest tote and were invited to sample a mix of hors d’oeuvres while they mingled with fellow members and VIP guests.  Doors opened to the general public at 8pm as attendees continued to mingle and take pictures with friends, filmmakers and celebrities.  Haiti Film Fest Advisory Committee Member Michèle Stephenson hit the stage welcoming distinguished guests and thanking everyone for taking the time to support Haiti Cultural Exchange.  Haiti-based radio personality, Carel Pedre, served as our host and MC for the evening.  Carel spoke on the importance of the festival and of story telling through the medium of film.  Screening two short films, Freedom by Matthew Brown and La Veuve by Wood-Jerry Gabriel of the Cine Institute, guests were given  a glimpse of the screenings to come.  Sanba Zao kicked off the musical portion of the evening with live drumming bringing everyone a taste of authentic Haitian rasin music.  Following Sanba Zao was NYC’s newest underground rap artist Ioan Delice.  Debuting his new song Petit Pays dedicated to Haiti, he rapped over a mixture of  traditional Haitian sounds and Hip Hop beats, an instant favorite with the crowd.  Ending the night with DJ Hard Hittin’ Harry’s new world sound, Opening Night was a fun-filled way to kickoff this year’s Film Fest.

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Edwidge Danticat and Joseph Hillel at the City College of New York

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BuildOn volunteers at the Brooklyn Public Library

Friday, May 8th was the first day of the Film Fest and we screened Ayiti Toma by Joseph Hillel.  Held at the City College of New York, the director joined us for a post film Q&A moderated by prolific literary author, Edwidge Danticat.  A heated point of discussion, for instance, came as guests questioned the director’s choice to include non-Haitians as representative of the Haitian narrative.

On Saturday, May 9th we screened three different movies; Black Dawn by Robin Lloyd and Doreen Kraft, Port-au-Prince Mon Seul et Unique Amour by Arnold Antonin, and In the Eye of the Spiral by Eve Blouin & Raynald Leconte at the Brooklyn Public Library.  Guests wandered in and out of the screening room holding conversations on the importance of archiving history, debunking myths and stereotypes.  Joined by student volunteers from the nonprofit organization BuildOn, the students participated in  “Enlightenment Bulbs” with each student writing what they learned from the day’s screenings.  Take a look at some comments made by the students:

•I learned that Haiti became the first black republic, gaining independence on January 1st, 1804.
•I enjoyed the film and learned valuable information about the independence of Haiti.
•The Haiti Film Fest is an eye opener.  To see the history behind Haiti, it’s worth it!
•George Corvington was very enthusiastic about his history.  It was really colorful.
•Today as I was watching the film, I enjoyed learning about Haiti’s Culture and battle to freedom.

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Entire crew of Forever Yours by Patrick Ulysse

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Director Rachelle Salnave with her family

On Sunday, May 10th we returned to St. Francis College for a special Mother’s Day screening of Forever Yours by Patrick Ulysse, Donoma by Djinn Carrénard, and La Belle Vie: The Good Life by Rachelle Salnave, and two shorts; one from the Global Empowerment Movement and Sweet Tea by Natalie Paul. Ulysse, the director of Forever Yours, joined us for our first post-film discussion, moderated by Film Fest Advisory Committee Member, Curtis John. Ulysse displayed humility noting that the film was a community project. Audience members got a chance to experience that sense of community when the entire film cast, from sound production, to makeup and editing, were invited on stage.  The Donoma Q&A was moderated by Haiti Film Fest Advisory Committee Member, Michèle Stephenson.  Debuted in 2012, director Carrénard made this movie with a budget of 150 euros. Another community based film, Carrénard had friends and family contribute to this project which explored the complexities of human relationships.  Following the Carrénard Q&A, guests were invited to a special Mother’s Day reception held before our final screening, the highly anticipated New York Premiere of La Belle Vie: The Good Life. A post-film discussion with director Rachelle Salnave was moderated by media professional, Daphne Leroy. The audience was mesmerized with Salnave’s ability to aesthetically convey her eagerness to discover “the good life” she so often heard her parents speak of during her childhood. Many were impressed with the director’s cinematic ability to portray beauty in a country where mainstream media and films have only focused on devastation and calamity.

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Left to right: David Belle, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, and Christian Ugbode at Kraine Theatre

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Millery Polyné moderator of Haitian Corner at Brooklyn Historical Society

On Monday, May 11th we had an Evening of Shorts at the Kraine Theatre in the Lower East Side.  Screening three shorts from Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only free school for film, as well as Freedom, a short by Matthew Brown, and Papa Machete a short by Jonathan David Kane.  Moderated by Christian Ugbode of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), we were joined by the Director of Ciné Institute David Belle and Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, producer of Papa Machete for our post-film discussion. Questions ranged in specificity to each film, but the overall arching theme of the night was the relationship between the film industry and Haiti, and what it means for Haiti’s future.  The short films presented on this day showed the importance of diversity within media and platforms that allow multiple opportunities for emerging artist to share their stories.  The landmark Brooklyn Historical Society was the perfect venue for our screening of the classic, Haitian Corner on Tuesday, May 12th. Directed by the critically acclaimed Raoul Peck, Haitian Corner was Peck’s first feature length film.  Surrounded by historical artifacts and the vibrant history that made Brooklyn, Haitian Corner was a flashback to life in the 80’s.  Moderated by NYU Professor Millery Polyné, we held an open forum after the screening. Conversations revolved around major themes, placing the film in historical context,  unpacking the use of key phrases used in the film, and the artistic sensibilities of the director.

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Left to right: Catherine Murphy, Pam Sporn and Carolle Charles at Maysles Cinema

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Skype interview with Remoh Romeo and Tirf Alexius at the Queens Public Library

On Wednesday, May 13th we screened Reembarque/Reshipment by Gloria Rolando at Maysles Cinema in Harlem.  This thoughtful documentary explored the history of Haitian migrant workers who arrived en masse to Cuba and the social and political complication that occurred as a result.  During our panel discussion with Carolle Charles, Pam Sporn and Catherine Murphy, audience members expressed intense interest in delving further into the historical connections between Haiti and Cuba, the role of the Cuban government in the disenfranchisement of the Haitian people, and the complexities of cultural identity.  On Thursday, May 14th we reached out to our fellow Haitians in Jamaica, Queens screening Lakay by Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo at the Central Library: Queens Library.  Theirs is a story of return to a forgotten homeland, a journey to rediscover their Haitian roots and reconnect with family in the aftermath of 2010 the earthquake. As Alexius and Romeo joined our post-discussion via Skype, it was clear that the film had touched a nerve. The audience was moved by their touching story.  Some expressed frustration and even anger at the rate of progress and development within Haiti. But mostly, the audience was elated that there was finally a dialogue among disconnected family members.

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Left to right: Leslie Fields-Cruz, Mario Delatour & Michelle Materre at FiveMyles Gallery

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Film Fest attendee asks director Mario Delatour a question

The Film Fest went out with a bang as we returned to our home base, FiveMyles Gallery on Friday, May 15th. We screened Storming Papa Doc by Mario Delatour to a packed house.  In addition to narrative interviews, Delatour’s documentary brilliantly incorporates animation to re-enact accounts of the historic siege of Haiti’s Casernes Dessalines on July 28th 1958.  The director joined Film Fest Advisory Committee Members Michelle Materre and Leslie Fields-Cruz of NBPC for an engaging conversation.  Audience members expressed their appreciation for the film and its importance in archiving and recording such a significant chapter in the country’s history. They wondered how Delatour came to be granted access to these government officials, and how he was able to get such candid disclosure regarding the events of that infamous evening.  It was a fitting way to end the festival and we were pleased to have Mario join us from Haiti to be part of the Q & A.

We extend special thanks to all of YOU for attending the festival; and our sincere gratitude to the Haiti Film Fest Advisory Committee, volunteers, venue & outreach partners, sponsors, moderators and filmmakers for their support.

Click here to take a look at pictures from the Haiti Film Fest Opening Night Reception!

Click here to take a look at pictures throughout the festival!

The third biennial Haiti Film Fest took place from May 7-15th, 2015.

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 HCX | Haiti Film Fest Advisory Committee

Arnold Antonin ·  Fritz Archer · Marc Baptiste · David Belle · Edwidge Danticat
Jonathan Demme · Guetty Felin · Henry Louis Gates Jr. · Curtis John · Jerry Lamothe
Anne Lescot · Michelle Materre · Michèle Stephenson  · Patrick Ulysse
Marc Henry Valmond · Frantz Voltaire

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The Haiti Film Fest is supported thanks to the generosity of:

HFF Sponsors (1)

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Haiti Film Fest | Media Partners

HFF Media Partners (1)

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Haiti Film Fest | Venue Parters

HFF Venue Partners

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Haiti Film Fest | Community Partners

Artists for Peace and Justice · Artists Institute · Black Documentary Film Collective
Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective · Center for Traditional Music and Dance/ Verite Sou Tanbou
Centre International De Documentation & D’Information Haitienne Caraïbéenne & Afrocanadienne (CIDIHCA)
Collectif 2004 Images · Cornbread & Cremasse · Creatively Speaking Film Series
Haitian Roundtable · Toussaint Louverture Cultural Foundation

Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, Film, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Public Forums, Uncategorized, Visual Art | No Comments »

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