Movie: The Empty Box, showing at the 4th Biennial Haiti Film Festival
Movie: The Empty Box, showing at the 4th Biennial Haiti Film Festival

Back again for its 4th biennial year is the Haitian Film Festival, hosted by Haiti Cultural Exchange.

The Film Festival kicks off Thursday, May 11, during Haitian Heritage month, with an opening night fundraiser and official launch party taking place at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.

The evening will also be dedicated to honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to Haitian film and culture, including Award-winning Film Director Arnold Antonin; Celebrated Film and Television Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis; and Filmmaker and Founder of Ayiti Images Rachelle Salnave.

Movie: Ayiti Mon Amour, showing at the 4th Biennial Haiti Film Festival
Movie: Ayiti Mon Amour, showing at the 4th Biennial Haiti Film Festival

“We work to develop, possess and promote Haitian Culture in New York City, said Rgine Roumain, co-founder and executive director of Haiti Cultural Exchange.

More than 20 films over the course of three days will be screened at various locations (see website for the complete info). Saturday will be a day of documentaries featuring the New York premiere of the film De Kiskeya a Haiti: Mais O Sont Passs Nos Arbres, a story that covers the 300 years of deforestation of Haiti and the proposition that the growing population is endangering the environment.

“We really felt like it’s important that we are able to present more nuanced narratives on Haiti, Haitians and Haitian culture in general,” said Roumain.

As many as 13 of filmmakers of the weekend’s featured films will be available at the festival to engage with the audience at the conclusion of each film: “It’s a really great opportunity for folks to hear from these filmmakers to see them, to speak to them and really get to know why this is important,” said Roumain.

Located at 558 St. John’s Place in Five Myles Gallery in Crown Heights, HCX not only holds a biennial film festival but also it runs a year-round series of programs  that serve to highlight and celebrate Haitian culture. The HCX is a multidisciplinary organization. It sponsors ongoing programs, such as artist talks, in which the community is invited to participate in intimate discussions with some of Haiti’s premier authors, intellectuals and entertainers.

I found there was a void in the representation of Haitian arts and culture on a consistent scale in New York City, said Roumain.

Regine Roumain (right) receives proclamation from Deputy Manhattan Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis for Rouiman’s contribution to the city, on behalf of Haitian community

Also, the lack of community organizing around Brooklyn’s strong Haitian community was another reasons that prompted her to found HCX, she said. In addition, HCX hosts teaching artist in schools through an assembly-style program to increase awareness and encourage cultural preservation of Haitian history and lifestyle.

“Being able to build bridges with our neighbors, with the different people we work and live around is definitely an important aspect of the work HCX tries to do,” said Roumain.

The upcoming film festival is just one of the many opportunities to continue building bridges and promoting a love and understanding of the culture.

For ticket and event information to the Haiti Film Festival, go here.

Kareem Dobson

Kareem is a recent college graduate from Norfolk State University that has spent a lot of his time going back and forth from Brooklyn to Virginia. He is into all things fashion, and he dabbles in the art...

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