Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Agronomist (2002)

The fifth in a series of documentaries revolving around Haiti's struggle for democracy, this piece from director Jonathan Demme revolves around the life of Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio personality who spent his life campaigning for reform within the notoriously oppressed nation. The Agronomist begins just after the 1991 overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when Dominique and his wife, while at the radio station, came under fire from rebels involved with the coup. Referred to as an agronomist due to his background in agriculture -- which, consequently, brought him into contact with the feudalistic nature of Haiti's farming system -- Dominique's passion for reform landed him in exile. Rather than give up after his release, Dominique initiated a career as a radio communicator, and he allowed Demme access to the station and his personal life during key periods of unrest and political fluctuation. Sadly, the documentary ends with an account of Dominique's assassination in April of 2000. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 91 mins
The Agronomist (2002)

Tonton Macoute
A basic documentary of a man struggling for freedom. Starting out as an "agronomist" and then branched out into radio broadcasting and a promoter of a films. One film he promoted was "Anita". None of the films he mentioned I see from Blockbuster except Night and Fog (1955).

The film has some nudity as some of the Haitians dance in the water and mud topless.

While welcoming the CNG's statement, the Haitian Chamber of Commerce expressed concern today. They are worried that the CNG has overstepped their role by engaging in acts of intimidation that violate human rights. The Chamber of Commerce hopes the rule of law is not jeopardized and is used for very specific goals:
*a society of laws, rights and responsibilities to which we aspire
*providing clear laws, respected by all, obeyed by all, lest our justice system will crumble.[Excerpt from film about the National Council of Government (French: Conseil National de Gouvernement, CNG)]

67% of the Haitian people voted for Aristide and his Lavalas movement.

December 16,1996-Live interview with President Aristide:
Jean Dominique: President, when you came back, you told 10 to 12 of the big, big millionaires in this country what we cal the big oligarchy those big bourgeois you said it's time for Reconciliation! And you began to shower them with gifts. Gifts to the left, gifts to the right. And in return these people have their own people working for the tax offices so they don't have to pay taxes. Their own people are working at the electric company so they don't pay for electricity and so on. Which means they repay your gifts with corruption inside your institutions and often this corruption is accepted by the militants within your Lavalas Party.
Aristide: I agree with some of your points, but not others. One thing I don't agree with--
JD: Reconciliation and gifts?
A: --No gifts--
JD: They were gifts--
A: No, I don't agree with you. Democracy is like a bicycle, One wheel is Reconciliation, the other is Justice. Deprived of one, democracy is not rolling.
JD: The Tevasa contract was a Reconciliation 'gift' but I don't see where the Justice lies!
A: Well now you are--

After that the relationship between JD and A cooled off tremendously.

I am sure that last part is something will never register in liberal minds. Something like a dog whistle to their ears...

For a biographical documentary, this film gave a nice feel for Haiti and Jean without it being a collection of trivial points randomly gathered together. And it did give me another view of Haiti that broadened my understanding of the people and the history.

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