Haitian movie nominated for best foreign film at the Oscars

Posted by hougansydney.com on Friday, November 10, 2017 Under: others
Ayiti Mon Amour

"Ayiti Mon Amour", a film that portrays the duel of this nation after the earthquake, was recently announced as the first film of the Caribbean country that enters the category of best foreign film at the Oscars.

Haiti has been devastated since the 2010 earthquake that left more than 220,000 dead, but a nascent film industry is beginning to emerge from the rubble of its destroyed villages.

In front of the phenomenon is Guetty Felin with "Ayiti Mon Amour", a film that portrays the duel of this nation after the earthquake and that was recently announced as the first film of the Caribbean country that enters the category of best foreign film at the Oscars. .

Ten days after the disaster, this Haitian woman traveled to Port-au-Prince on a relief plane. Felin still remembers the scenes she encountered when she landed: images that remained in her as a filmmaker.

"Never before had I smelled death, bodies everywhere. I was just thinking 'What is this stench?' All over the city, it was simply devastating, " she told AFP.

The schools, hospitals and infrastructure of this Caribbean nation were destroyed, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake left 300,000 injured and 1.5 million homeless in the poorest country in Latin America.

Seven years later, "Ayiti Mon Amour" marks not only the emergence of a new voice in Haitian cinematography but also a milestone in the cultural reconstruction of the country, being the first feature film shot in the country led by a woman.

Taking advantage of his previous work in documentaries, Felin prints the realities of the current Haiti - the power cuts, the scarcity of water and the threat of climate change - with a lyric that highlights its mystical side.

Brutal dictatorship

Located in Kabic, a small fishing village where water has been covering the earth as a result of climate change, Felin's camera shows how life has changed five years after the earthquake.

A teenager who cries at his father discovers that he literally developed an electrifying super power, while an old fisherman who speaks with his cow thinks that the cure for his sick wife can be found in the sea.

On the other hand, the beautiful and mysterious muse of a struggling novelist, who is the main character in his book, turns restless and decides to leave and follow his own life.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Felin lived her childhood and adolescence between New York and Haiti, although she comes from living an artistic stage in Paris, where she went to study film and ended up staying 20 years.

Felin fell in love with the cinema in the drive-in cars of Port-au-Prince, which she escaped during the brutal dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who was followed by his despotic son Jean Claude or "Baby Doc".

"I grew up in this space knowing that the dictatorship existed, but at the same time it was a place of happiness," she said, recalling her childhood neighborhood as a place of music and parties.

"There were times when you were afraid that someone could take you from here. Then, the fragility of life - that dance that my parents had to do all the time - inspired me totally, "she explained.

"Ayiti Mon Amour", which is looking for a distributor in the United States, only has one professional actor, while the rest of the cast and many other collaborators came from the community and from Felin's own family.

'Guilty of surviving'

The French husband of the director, veteran filmmaker Herve Cohen, was in charge of filming and his eldest son Yeelen served as his assistant, while his girlfriend was the second camera.

Although, the real star of the film is Felin's younger son, Joakim Ethan Cohen, a 17-year-old beginner at the time of filming, who has been acclaimed for his performance.

"He knew what he was doing meant a lot to me. It was like a gift to me, " said Felin.

"I directed it but it was very easy, every shot was really good, and I think he knew the story from the inside," she said.

The film industry in Haiti was already suffering before the earthquake. The last movie theater had closed a year earlier, in the midst of rampant piracy and no film was screened in a public space five years after that.

"It's hard to make movies in a place like Haiti because something that is a priority always happens, whether it's political instability or a disaster or something," Felin said.

"Making movies is not a priority for the Haitian people," she said.

The film emerged from the rubble of buildings destroyed by the quake, but Feline, who lost a close friend and says she feels "guilty of surviving", did not want the film to be only about the duel, but as a love letter for her country.

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