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Post by jafrikayiti » Sat Jun 02, 2007 4:12 pm

Dear comrades,

There is a lot that needs to be said on this topic but, more importantly, there is still a lot of time and opportunity left to make the Toussaint film the success and powerful educational tool it can and ought to be.

I have been following this film project for many years now and I am convinced that Haiti can benefit a great deal from such a production. I am also convinced of Danny Glover's sincere desire to make an excellent product - otherwise this could have been on the screen long ago.

The points raised by sister Marguerite Laurent (see message below) are excellent and crucial ones. I have raised the same issue with Danny Glover when we met briefly at the bicentennial celebrations in January 2004. Over the few minutes of conversation we had, I tried to impressed upon him a number of points, including 1) the great educational potential of his film, especially if a Haitian Kreyol version is produced and 2) the film manages to do justice to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, founder of the Republic of Haiti, who led the revolution to victory following the kidnapping and murder of Toussaint Louverture by the French.

I do not have any special access to the production team to know whether these two preoccupations have been taken seriously. But, at this juncture, I would encourage those who share these concerns to express them as was done by sister Marguerite Laurent. And, as we do so, let us make sure we do not fall in the trap of haters who are speaking evil of the project for motives that are simply hideous. For instance, I have read a piece from Stanley Lucas, of International Republican Institute fame, who attacks the Toussaint film project on account of Danny Glover's friendship with President Chavez.

Obviously, the imperialists and their stooges realize how powerful a tool this film can be, if it is funded and produced by revolutionaries who will not have any "strings" attached that forces them to revise the script to please the white supremacist forces who fought the Haitian revolution and are still punishing the resisters.

This year we saw how the tragic story of the people of Uganda was exploited in "The Last King of Scotland". Lots of accolade to Brother Whittaker but, apparently, the film did not really tell the whole story. Rather, it served to reinforce Eurocentric myths and prejudices. For, while the buffoonery of Idi Amin Dada was thoroughly exposed, once again his European allies where presented as mere victims of the "African" demon. We are all too familiar with this paradigm. Who put Idi Amin Dada in power, who financed him, who did he finance in return? ...all of that is apparently unimportant....So many folks are happy Whittaker got the Grammy. Most folks remain puzzled by the title "Last King of Scotland" - Is it really Idi Amin who is being laughed at?

Here is an interesting article on this related subject...
Le dernier roi d'Ecosse, Critique sans concession d'un film ... artsuite=0

So, I am glad it is Louverture Films that is working on the film, rather than L'Alliance Française or some other self-imposed special "friends" of the Haitian people.

I am excited to learn that talented actors like Angela Bassett, Cheadle, Murphy etc... shall play the key roles.

I am still concerned that the importance of a Kreyol version has not been appreciated to the required level. But, something can and ought to be done to fix this.

I am still concerned about the adequate portrayal of Jean Jacques Dessalines in the final product. But, something can and ought to be done to fix this.

Based on information published on their website, here is how Louverture Films can be reached:

Louverture Films, LLC
101 West 23rd Street, #283
New York, NY 10011 USA
Tel: 1-212 229 3960
Fax: 1-212 229 3963

Laurent on Glover's proposed Haiti film:

Venezuela giving Danny Glover $18m to direct film on Haitian revolution
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 ... &Itemid=15

A film about the amazing Haitian revolution is planned by Danny Glover and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Actor, humanitarian and San Francisco native Danny Glover and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who have worked closely together politically, plan to expand their partnership to moviemaking with a film about the slave rebellion that made Haiti the first Black independent country in the world. While celebrating this remarkable initiative, however, prominent attorney and performance artist Marguerite Laurent, founder of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, hopes the film will focus on Jean-Jacque Dessalines, the revolutionary leader most Haitians credit with Haiti's independence, rather than solely on Toussaint Louverture, the leader better known to Americans.

Glover, chair of TransAfrica Forum and a vocal critic of the Bush administration, is, along with Harry Belafonte, the best known celebrity supporter of Chávez and a regular visitor to Venezuela. It was from the press that he learned that the film deal had progressed from the talking to the funding stage, that Venezuela's Congress had allocated $17.8 million for “scripts, production costs, wardrobe, lighting, transport, makeup and the creation of the whole creative and administrative platform.”

The project could mark a breakthrough for Villa del Cine, a new government-funded studio outside the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. “I can do everything I need to do with this film from here,” Glover said. He will direct the film, which he said will be titled “Toussaint.”

A freed African slave in Haiti, Toussaint Louverture led thousands of slaves in successful campaigns against British, Spanish and French troops before being betrayed, captured and exiled. He died in 1803, just before his followers succeeded in establishing the island's independence. Glover told the British newspaper The Guardian that he wants to educate the U.S. about the Haitian revolution. “It's been essentially wiped out of our historic memory; it's been wiped clean,” he said.

“I truly hope someone gets to Danny Glover on this Louverture issue,” Marguerite Laurent wrote to the Bay View when she heard the news. “Toussaint Louverture was certainly ahead of his time and a great visionary and warrior, and, in fact, he was kidnapped, tortured and murdered for his ideals.

“But, it turns out today all over the developing world the independence that the former colonies enjoy is that which was espoused by Toussaint – who saw that the most he could do for Haiti was free the captives and get Haiti to be a Black-ruled French colony, with himself as governor for France.

“Dessalines is the one who did what was necessary and then renamed the island, set forth its laws of existence and abolished colonialism. All over the developing world today, it is Toussaint's then avant-guard idea that is in place and why Europeans prefer to exult Toussaint and teach that to Black and Brown people rather than to present Dessalines, whose idea of a Black-ruled independent nation is what all of Africa and the Caribbean and Latin American countries wish to bring to pass,” said Laurent.

Pointing out that, like Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela would never glorify their former colonists over their own independence, she cautioned against preferring Louverture over Dessalines. “Dessalines is despised by the powers who continue to subjugate and colonize. Toussaint's structure is now their accepted norm for imperial governance, the exploitation of Black and Brown labor, lands and resources.”

“I hope,” Laurent said, that “we don't find ourselves with a Danny Glover film that claims Toussaint is the founding father of Haiti and its ideal of a Black ruled independent nation.”


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