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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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Posted in Archive, Film, HCX Programs, Uncategorized | No Comments »

HCX Collaborations | Haïti en Folie

10.25.16

By Nathalie Jolivert, HCX Communications and Outreach Coordinator

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This past Sunday, October 23, 2016, Haiti Cultural Exchange collaborated with Festival Haiti en Folie and hosted a conference and book signing for authors Michel Soukar and Rodney Saint-Eloi at Brooklyn College. Fabienne Colas, founder of Haiti en Folie and Carèl Pèdre, radio host of Chokarella in Haiti gave a warm welcome to the attendees after which, the writer and poet Michèle Marcelin Voltaire moderated the conversation between the two guest speakers.

Michel Soukar, historian and journalist based in Port-au-Prince spoke about his career and how his exile from Haiti allowed him to take a step back, as an activist, to focus on the history of the country. Learning about the complex history of Haiti encouraged him to communicate political and societal change in compelling storytelling. Soukar’s bibliography includes “Cora Geffrard, which recounts the life and death of president Fabre Geffrard’s daughter who was killed at a young age and “La Prison des Jours, which follows his main character, Antoine Pierre Paul’s insurgence against the US army during the American occupation of Haiti. In December, Soukar will be part of a conference in Haiti highlighting this military occupation, as a difficult period with an ongoing impact.

Rodney Saint-Eloi, writer and editor based in Montreal spoke about the importance of memory for the Haitian people. In the presentation of his newly published novel “Passion Haiti”, he mentions that memory is important to preserve for it is by knowing our past that we can move forward with lessons learned. As an example, he mentioned that his recent novel gave hope to a reader who felt hopeless for the Southern cities of Haiti post-hurricane Matthew. By reading about the author’s native city of Cavaillon, the reader understood that this city would prevail, for there was a lot of history that could not be erased by a hurricane.

As editors and great promoters of Haitian literature, Michel Soukar and Rodney Saint-Eloi also took the time to pay homage to classic Haitian writers like René Dépestre, Marie-Vieux Chauvet and Jacques Roumain. They also highlighted the works of a growing number of women writers, as well as that of poets who publish in Creole.

The attendance was multi-generational and the questions covered many aspects of the literary scene of Haiti from budding writers trying to make a mark through their participation in fairs and literary events, to scholars who are concerned about the future of literature in Haiti and the access to published work by a wider Haitian audience, via education. The event ended with a long line of guests eager to have their questions answered as they got their newly purchased books signed by the authors.

Haiti Cultural Exchange was pleased to partner with Fabienne Colas and Haiti En Folie and look forward to continuing to partner with likeminded organizations to bring Haitian culture to the forefront of New York’s rich cultural landscape.

Posted in Archive, Events, HCX Collaborations, Literature, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Ann Pale | Café Conversation with Lakou NOU Artists

10.06.16

by Nathalie Jolivert, Communications and Outreach Coordinator at HCX.

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Lakou NOU is Haiti Cultural Exchange’s newest Artist in Residency program providing opportunities for artists to work in Brooklyn communities that are home to generations of Haitians and Haitian-Americans. The first four artists to participate in this program are true community activists who will be working in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie. Their projects deal with urbanism, place-making, community-building, public health, and empowerment at a time in US history when the Afro-Caribbean people of Brooklyn need it most. HCX hosted its signature Ann Pale Café Conversation panel with the first cohort of Lakou NOU residents: Sabine Blaizin, Veroneque Ignace, & Okai Fleurimont. (Sherley Davilmar was unable to be present).

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Sabine Blaizin, a New York based DJ who spins Afro-Soul, combines sounds of the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. In her project based in Crown Heights, Blaizin will create a soundscape with stories she will collect from Haitian members in the community affected by gentrification. To collect those stories, Blaizin is very proactive in connecting with Crown Heights community leaders and attending neighborhood meetings relevant to her subject. On October 26th, she will be holding interviews at our office in Crown Heights with volunteer residents. Their stories will be recorded by StoryCorps and archived in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Blaizin has performed with DJs in various cities in the US, Canada, Dakar, Mexico, Cuba and Haiti. In answering how it feels like to travel to different countries and coming back to the US with new material, she explains that she reaches a different level of connection with her crowd. Listening to her music mixing conversations, deep reflections and words of wisdom, one can already imagine how inspiring and challenging it may be for Blaizin to piece together sounds of grief, displacement, nostalgia and disappointment in Crown Heights. The feelings that are attached with the “Haitian flight” in Crown Heights can be assimilated to all the forced migrations people of black heritage experience. Gentrification is an ongoing occurrence in Crown Heights. It is bittersweet to foresee that the residents’ experience is ready to be archived for the memory of future generations. Blaizin’s project also brings an opportunity for those residents to reflect on their situation with an approach that might reveal new depths in their understanding of what gentrification means in their lives.

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Véronèque Ignace is a dancer and public-health professional who wants to heal through the power of dance. This has been an important goal for her since working on her thesis at Williams College. In a powerful video introduction of her thesis, she explains that the experience of Black students studying in predominantly white institutions can be traumatic and should be taken into account in their academic performance. The result is a dissertation and choreography in which her dancers interact with the audience and make them face this issue with movement.

How does her experience as a dancer and academician at Williams differ from her role as a healer in East Flatbush? “In East Flatbush my work is not a show” she responds. In East Flatbush, Ignace creates a platform and outlet for the youth to deal with emotions that are not always addressed. It is an opportunity for her to truly practice skills of dance therapy and respond to the youth’s reaction to violence in their neighborhood. “Some of them are afraid to leave their house” Ignace explains.

The title to Veroneque’s project is “#Trending” and she encourages the young Haitian-Americans of East Flatbush to express their feelings about the trending deaths in the Black community – Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, more recently Keith Scott… unfortunately, the list goes on. How not to feel overwhelmed? Dealing with the growing numbers is a challenge that Ignace is willing to tackle as the youth of East Flatbush grapple with the violence they witness in their community.

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Rodney ‘Okai’ Fleurimont, is a percussionist and MC who is interested in the importance and benefits of a healthy diet in a musician’s life. In recent experiences traveling with his music band, he realized that, beyond the fatigue of traveling through different time-zones, the meals his colleagues consumed had a direct correlation with their performances. Okai has previously taught at PS 189 in Brownsville Brooklyn as a Ti Atis teacher via HCX and his experiences leading workshops and various other initiatives, made him realize that there is a pressing need for the youth in the Black community to think about their diet. Issues of diabetes and obesity are prominent within the youth of the Black Community.

With his project in Canarsie, Okai will partner with various drummers, masters of Afro-Caribbean and West-African techniques, to teach students how to play the drums. Each session will begin with a class on exercise and diet. Okai’s goal is to inspire the Haitian-American youth to keep their passion for music alive by understanding that they need the physical strength to carry their musical instruments around and also to play for hours without collapsing. There are many other benefits in participating in Okai’s workshops. Discipline and team-work are the qualities he sees his students acquire as they learn how to play the drums. They understand that it takes great team-work and perfect coordination to carry out a nice melody.

Sherley Davilmar, who will be working in the community of Flatbush was unable to make it to the Ann Pale Café Conversation. However, she shared with us the workshops that she will be hosting in the upcoming weeks for her project. They will all take place at the Brooklyn Public Library on Linden Boulevard and will cover themes of “Health Beauty and Wellness”, “Gentrification” and “Black Bodies”. From Davilmar’s energetic performances during HCX’s Selebrasyon events, one can already expect that her work will be charged with great information for future performances.

The Ann Pale Café Conversation with the Lakou NOU artists was a great opportunity for us to learn about the progress of their work. Speaking to the audience was also initial research material for the artists in their projects. As interactive as their work is, it will be inspiring to see how their projects evolve in the upcoming months.

Check out the Facebook Album HERE.

Take a look at the calendar of upcoming programs HERE.

Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Dance, Events, HCX Programs, Music, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Pwezi ak Mizik Anba Tonèl 2016

10.03.16

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For the 6th edition of our annual literary event “Pwezi ak Mizik Anba Tonèl” we were pleased to host the legendary musician Boulo Valcourt and poets Jeanie Bogart and James Noël. Boulo Valcourt holds an important place in the Haitian music scene and culture. He participated in various music bands, including Ibo Combo and Caribbean Sextet, and is well known for his contribution to Haiti’s “twoubadou” music genre. Jeanie Bogart grew up in the Southern Haitian city of Les Cayes before moving to New York. As a Creole and French court interpreter, Bogart witnesses difficult court trials, yet her poetry is full of passion and love. James Noël, who joined us from Port-au-Prince, is a prolific poet whose career is widely celebrated. He is very active in the literary scene of Haiti and often participates in international literary events.

The evening started with an open-mic for poets in the audience, which was a fitting tone for this evening filled with impromptu performances, street dancing, and community residents from our Crown Heights neighborhood. They were followed by Boulo Valcourt whose lovely guitar set the mood for James Noël and Jeanie Bogart. Noël’s touching tribute to the late Haitian drummer Léonord Fortuné ‘Azor’ and Bogart’s passionate love lyrics motivated our guests to rush and buy copies of their anthologies after the show. It felt like the perfect end-of-summer event. In the final moments, Boulo Valcourt’s nostalgic sounds for the famous song “La Pèsonn O” had the crowd chanting together with the musician as they wished farewell to the warm season.

Please enjoy pictures of the performance below by Paul Corbanese:
https://www.facebook.com/paul.corbanese/media_set?set=a.1415123475182344.1073741829.100000541148602&type=3&pnref=story

Event covered by Adolf Azuphar on Rhythm Passport: http://www.rhythmpassport.com/articles-and-reviews/event-review/review-boulo-valcourt-five-myles-gallery-brooklyn-27th-august-2016/

Event covered by Tequila Minsky on Caribbean Life: http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2016/9/2016-09-02-tm-haitian-sidewalk-soiree-cl.html?utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=misclinks&utm_source=newsbar&utm_content=intra

James Noël’s books :
Anthologie de la Poésie Haïtienne
Intranqu’îllités
Le Pyromane Adolescent
Un jour… tes pantoufles

Jeanie Bogart’s books :
Sa m pral kite dèyè
Dènye rèl- DVD

Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Arts, Dance, Events, HCX Programs, Music, Poetry, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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