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Haiti Dreams of Democracy (1988)

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Interesting documentary on Haiti in a moment of hopefulness
9 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shot in Haiti in early 1987 and narrated by Haitians--political activists, musicians, "vodou" priests, and ordinary citizens--this, Jonathan Demme's third documentary (following the performance films "Stop Making Sense" and "Swimming to Cambodia"), shows the island nation at what appeared to be a turning point in its history, when the oppressive Duvalier regime had just been ousted and dreams of democracy were possible for the first time in many years. Music, and the rapt audience it attracts, are at the heart of the film, from beggars performing on improvised instruments to established artists such as the singer/poet Manno Charlemagne and the "angaje" (politically engaged) band Les Frères Parent.

Demme's interest in Haiti has continued; besides his use of Haitian music in his fiction films, see "The Agronomist" (2003), his excellent documentary portrait of the martyred radio journalist and human rights activist Jean Dominique (Dominique and his wife Michèle Montas are glimpsed briefly in this film).


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