Haitian Movies That Show The Best Of The Nation

Friday, October 28 by Shannon Ongley

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	The first thing that comes to mind when people hear Haiti is usually <a href=caribbean island getaway or extreme poverty, but rarely do people realize that Haitian movies are thriving. Over the last fifteen years or so the Haitian film industry has become a vibrant one, ranging in everything from action to romance and comedies and although they are never on wide-release in the United States, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't check out these five classic Haitian films.

"Le President A-t-il Le Sida" This film was the first fictional movie from political documentarian Arnold Antonin. It follows the life of Dao, a hard partying musician whose life of unprotected sex, orgies and rampant drug use is interrupted after an accident lends him in the hospital. In the hospital he learns he has AIDS while at the same time he falls for a young impoverished woman named Nina. The drama centers around the conflicts that arise as he tries to clean up his life and somehow pursue a relationship with her despite his illness, including trying voodoo magic to rid himself of his "evil spirits."

"Kraze Lafna" Raphael Stines, a highly influential Haitian director/producer, created this film, which translates to "Breaking Hell." This was a farcical film starring Jesfira, a comedian known for his imitation of the southern Haiti accent. It skewered the Duvalier dictatorship, which had recently been overthrown, but  the new military leader of Haiti, Aristade, took it to be an indictment of his leadership, which led to Jesfira going into hiding and scared most other Haitian filmmakers to steer clear of political movies until the end of the Duvalier regime.

"Tchala L’argent des Reves" This documentary by Michele Lemoine takes the audience into the roadside vendor stalls which dot the Haitian countryside. It is here that we are introduced to the boulette, or lottery, world which is sometimes jokingly referred to as the national pastime. Destitute citizens play the lottery as a means of survival in a bankrupt country where survival often depends wholly on chance.

"La Peur D’aimer" "The Fear of Loving" was the first film to bring Hollywood style cinematic technique to Haitian film and caused audiences to expect a new standard in film. A terrific film in its own right, notable for a strong script, follows a young lawyer on vacation from his dying mother and over-possessive girlfriend when he meets a young woman, Sarah. It explores issues of unplanned pregnancy in a society where a girl cans till be ruined by it and taking joy in a simple life. 

"Anita" Rassoul Labuchin directed this story centered on the child slavery problem in Haiti. Lauded by the Duvalier regime, it followed a young servant girl who works for an upper middle class family. It tackles many of the societal pressures of the time, such as conflicts between the working poor and wealthy in Haiti, without pandering to the perspective of either group. It was wildly popular and also the country's first Creole-language film. 

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