Page 1 of 1

Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution -PBS 1/25/09

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:38 pm
by Guysanto

Egalité for All:
Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution
Date: Sunday, January 25, 2009
Time: 10pm
Network: PBS

Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and The Haitian Revolution ... orAll.html

Koval Films is proud to announce the broadcast of their latest documentary "Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and The Haitian Revolution" The film tells the story of the first black leader in the Americas and his participation in the only successful slave revolution in history.

( - Egalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, tells the breathtaking and tragic story of the Haitian Revolution that began in 1791 and raged for twelve apocalyptic years. It was led by Toussaint Louverture – a singular figure who rose from slavery to become a world-class military strategist, a master of imperial power politics, and author of Haiti's first democratic constitution. Louverture embraced the radical ideas born of the French Revolution and insisted they applied to slaves, too. Seventy years before the American Civil War, Louverture argued “equality for all” truly meant for all -- regardless of race. His persuasiveness and success on the battlefield carried far: France not only freed all its colonial slaves but in 1794, it made them full citizens, too.

Sadly, the epochal expansion of equality neither propelled Louverture, nor the country he founded, into a secure and prosperous future. Within eight years, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to turn back the clock with a new invasion and Louverture ended his life in a French prison. It was other black revolutionaries – most notably Jean-Jacques Dessalines – who ultimately expelled French armies and established the Haitian Republic once and for all. The victory was monumental; but the cost was crippling – not just in white, black, and brown lives -- but in the devastated economy and scarred sense of nationhood that emerged from the embers. It's a legacy that dogs Haiti to this day.

Egalité for All features interviews with Haitian and American writers, historians, and cultural figures. It excerpts letters, diaries and public pronouncements from the period and visualizes them with richly photographed period reenactments. The one hour documentary was developed by Margaret Koval, produced by Patricia Asté and written and directed by Noland Walker It is narrated by Haitian author Edwidge Danticat . David Davis is the executive producer.

Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution is a co-production of Koval Films, ITVS, Oregon Public Broadcasting and NBPC with funding from PBS and CPB.

For information contact Patricia Aste.

310 242-0515, 310-645-2065,

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:38 am
by Guysanto
Sorry to say, but while this rare exposure to the Haitian Revolution on American TV screens was welcome I found it underwhelming. I expected more input from better known or more prolific Haitian historians. The narration by no less than our current literary queen, Edwidge Danticat, was surprisingly less than engaging. The time of showing on PBS (10:00 pm on a Sunday night) did not help matters either.

I struggled to stay awake, while I am sure that a more riveting production, especially on a topic as compelling as this, would have left me otherwise at the edge of my seat. As it turned out, I found the exercise a bit too diasporic in feel, leaving my imagination grounded where it already was, not taking me willfully to the center of where it all started.

Still waiting for a reenactment of The Black Jacobins or a decent screen epic of the life of a Haitian Hero, like Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henry Christophe, Boukman, Makandal, or L'incontournable Toussaint L'Ouverture. I know that such was not the aim of this mostly academic affair. I sincerely wish that more efforts to publicize the Haitian Revolution will follow, so that one day the test of being "Haitian" in U.S. high schools and colleges will be more than the ability to answer the ubiquitous "Sak pase?" or wearing a blue and red bandana on Haitian Flag Day. Our collective historical memory is in great danger of going with the wind and any effort to counter that trend should be seen in a positive light.

I thank the producers of "Égalité for All" for their contribution, even if it left me wanting so much more...

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti

Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:56 pm
by Serge

I want to say something about the documentary, but I got tied up and only now I am I reading your comments. It is not too late to give a few brief comments.

LIke you, I found the documentary "underwhelming". There are a lot of elements which were absent. I thought for example that there would be more information about Toussaint's impact on the US, Louisiana etc. I too got distracted a some point, almost bored. Apart from Jean-Claude Martineau, I found the other commentators wanting. I also felt the same way toward Edwidge Danticat's performance. She is a beautiful writer, but that did not help in this case.

My general impression is that the author seems to have run out of resources at some point and the documentary had to be completed at all cost. In the process, some things had to be left out. In my view, there is enough material for at least a 2-part documentary. But, the money does not come from my pocket.....


Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:33 pm
by Guysanto
Serge, I thought that Jean-Claude Martineau did a very credible job, too. His effort is another good addition to his already outstanding professional record.

Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:37 pm
by Gelin_
I did not have the opportunity to watch the show but I heard a good report from a "white" American who knew absolutely nothing about Toussaint, and very little about Haiti. He was pleasantly educated in what we all know already since we studied our history since childhood. And I think it's because we know those things already that you may have found the documentary less than what you'd expect. It can be quite a revelation to many others.