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Interesting documentary on Haiti in a moment of hopefulness
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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