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World Nomads Cinéma
Maysles Institute
Haitian Documentary Series

May 3–21, 2009
Part of World Nomads: Haiti

As part of the World Nomads Haiti cinema series, the venerated Maysles Institute presents a collection of documentaries that explore the expanse of Haitian culture both on the Caribbean island and among the American diaspora. Taken together, the Haitian Vodou religion, visual art, and popular music succeed in transcending political struggle with a cohesive, contemporary voice.

The Revelations of Madame Nerval
Les Illuminations de Madame Nerval

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 7pm

Charles Najman, 1999. 55 min.
In French with English subtitles.

“The invisible is a mystery,” the astonishing Haitian Vodou priestess tells us at the start of the film. What follows are the implications, expressed with more than a hint of humor, which reveals the essential, fantastic, and concrete link with Africa in this pragmatic and familiar religion.

Of Men and Gods 
Des Hommes et Des Dieux

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 8pm

Anne Lescot and Lawrence Magloire, 2002. 52 min.
In Creole with English subtitles.

Of Men And Gods examines the daily existence of several Haitian men who are openly gay. Prevalent, yet still taboo, homosexuality and gay culture are allowed to flourish within the context of Haiti’s Vodou religion. As “children of the gods,” the men find an explanation for homosexuality as well as divine protection–while the AIDS epidemic looms as a continual threat.

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Dreams of Democracy
Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 8pm

Jonathan Demme, 1988. 52 min.
In English.

Made shortly after the 1987 overthrow of the Duvalier regime, this film is a platform for Haitian people to express dreams and concerns for the country’s future and comment on its tumultuous present through popular culture. Director Jonathan Demme creates an impressionistic report that authentically encapsulates the opinions, aspirations, and fashions of the time.

Carnival Jacmel 
Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 9pm

Students of Ciné Institute with Jonathan Stack, 2009.
In progress.

This short film made by students at Haiti’s new Ciné Institute documents the Carnaval celebration that takes place every year in Jacmel. This film is the result of an initiative to build and sustain a local film industry in a town famous for its artists and film festival.

9:30pm: Reception
A reception with students and teachers from
the Ciné Institute will follow the screening.

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The Other Side of Water

Ra-Ra, A Haitian Festival
Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8pm

Gail Pellet, 1978. 18 min.

This short film provides background on one of Haiti’s unique musical forms: Ra-Ra. The screening will be followed by a slideshow and talk with the film’s producer and ethnomusicologist, Verna Gillis, documenting and discussing her travels in Haiti.

The Other Side of Water 
Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8:30pm

Jeremy Robins & Magali Damas, 2008. 61 min.
In English.

This feature documentary follows a group of young immigrants who take an ancient music from the hills of Haiti (“Ra-Ra”) and reinvent it on the streets of Brooklyn. The journey of this unlikely band offers a unique insight into the Haitian-American experience—a rare glimpse into a world of music, spirituality, and cultural activism.

9:30pm: Performance and procession by DJA RARA
Following the screening, there will be a performance by DJA RARA (JAH-rah-rah), a ground-shaking Ra Ra band which has been keeping the traditional Haitian processional music alive in America for nearly 20 years.

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Black Dawn

Black Dawn
Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 3pm

Robin Lloyd, 1981. 16 min.

This stop-frame animation presents the history of the Haitian revolution through the vision of Haitian artists. Recommended for all ages, Black Dawn presents a story of enslavement, uprising, and independence in a visually stunning manner—a true celebration of Haitian arts, folkways, and history.

Haitian Eksperyans  
Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 3:30pm

David Belle, 1996. 25 min.

This film offers a view of Haiti that is seldom the focus of documentaries about the country. Haitian Eksperyans celebrates the country’s natural beauty, rich cultural traditions, and the warmth of its people—reasons so many foreigners develop a love for the country, and a source of pride for all in the Haitian diaspora.

4pm: Carnival Jacmel
Following the screening, visit the exhibit featuring videos and photographs of Carnival. Plus, juice and cookies for the little ones!

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The Sculptors of Grand Rue

The Sculptors of Grand Rue

Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 7:30pm

Leah Gordon, 2008. 35 min.

Grand Rue is the main avenue that runs north–south through downtown Port-au-Prince. At the avenue’s southern end is a close-knit community with a historical tradition of arts, crafts, music, and religious practice, whose members draw on the refuse of the nearby car repair district to create powerful sculptural collages.


Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 8:15pm

Jørgen Leth, 2002. 55 min.
In English, Creole, and French.

Danish director Jørgen Leth captures with great integrity the spirituality and other-worldliness of elderly Haitian painters. Among the artists represented are André Pierre, Philome Obin, Prospere Pierre Louis, Louisiane Saint-Fleurant, and Salnave Philippe-Auguste. As these masters share their wisdom and practice the category of the “naïf” artist is itself rendered irrelevant and simple-minded.

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Maysles Cinema
343 Malcolm X Boulevard
Between 127th and 128th streets

Ticket Price
Suggested Donation: $7

For added performances and forums,

Cultural Services of the French Embassy
rts, a State agency
Florence Gould Hall

World Nomads Haiti is generously supported by American Airlines, the official airline of FIAF; Afrique en création–CulturesFrance; and Organisation internationale de la francophonie.

Haitian Documentary Series is co-presented with The Maysles Institute. As the only movie theater in northern Manhattan dedicated to documentary and independent film, the Maysles Institute serves as a site of community-based, low-cost popular education and entertainment. Located in Harlem at 343 Lenox Avenue, Maysles builds an audience for exemplary documentary films through screenings at the cinema house and through collaborations with outside partners.

Cinéma at FIAF is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency

The FIAF Spring 2009 Season is made possible by support from American Airlines, the official airline of FIAF; the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Florence Gould Foundation; and the Herbert J. Seligmann Charitable Trust

Photo Credits:
Top Image: Atis-Rezistans: The Sculptors of Grand Rue /© Leah Gordon
The Other Side of Water /© Josh Farley
Black Dawn /© Robin LLoyd
Atis-Rezistans: The Sculptors of Grand Rue /© Leah Gordon
Dreamers /© Jorgen Leth

© French Institute Alliance Française. All Rights Reserved.