Haiti Film Fest spreads across 3 boroughs

It is so exciting that the Haiti Film Fest, now in its third edition, is expanding its reach and will be screening a film in Queens, as well as uptown Manhattan (City College and also Maysles Cinema) and downtown, and of course in Brooklyn where the mother ship, Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) is based. For the full schedule: haiticulturalx.org/haitifilmfest.

HCX has always been masterful partnering with organizations with which they share vision or mission.

Screening all over town? HCX Director Regine Roumain explains, “Partnering with multiple venues across the city provides an increased audience for the festival, strengthens the visibility for the films, and allows diverse audiences to attend the festival.”

A gala on Thursday evening, May 7 at Drom NYC, featuring short films–Freedom by Matthew Brown and La Veuve by Wood-Jerry Gabriel– launches the festival.

Performances by Sanba Zao of Lakou Mizik and Ioan Delice with a crowd that loves to dance is part of the evening’s program.

The eight-day cinema fest comprises varied contemporary films, all about Haiti. This includes a preview screening of Forever Yours–just finished–by local filmmaker Patrick Ulysse (5/9, Sun., 1:00 p.m., St. Francis College) and the classic film Haitian Corner by renowned filmmaker Raoul Peck (5/12, Tues. 6:30 p.m., Brooklyn Historical Society).

The festival also includes expanded post screening discussions with filmmakers, actors and scholars. Edwidge Danticat will be at the City College, Ayiti Toma, screening on May 8 and Millery Polyné will lead a post screening discussion of Raoul Peck’s Haitian Corner on May 12.

Other highlights. On Saturday, May 9, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Auditorium on Grand Army Plaza will host an afternoon of screenings from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

On Sunday, following the projections that run from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at St. Francis College, Remsen Street in Brooklyn, and a special Mother’s Day reception will be held from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

La Cayes restaurant on Lafayette Street is the “official after hours” joint for Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

On May 14, 6:00 p.m., the Central Queens Library (Merrick Blvd. near 90th Ave., Jamaica) will host the screening of “Lakay” (a documentary in English & Kreyol with English subtitles.)

In addition to Robin Lloyd’s animated film Black Dawn, and the Monday night series of shorts at Kraine Theatre, 85 E. 4th St., there are five NY Premieres as part of the program.

Seven documentaries are in the festival: Ayiti Toma (Haiti, The Country that is Ours) by Joseph Hillel; Port-au-Prince Mon Seul et Unique Amour (Port-au-Prince My Only and Unique Love) by Arnold Antonin; In the Eye of the Spiral

by Eve Blouin and Raynald Leconte; La Belle Vie: The Good Life by Rachelle Salnave; Reembarque / Reshipment by Gloria Rolando; Lakay (The House) by Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo, and Storming Papa Doc by Mario Delatour.

The Haiti Film Fest was developed by HCX to provide opportunities for Haitian filmmakers, in particular those who are emerging, to showcase their films to diverse audiences. Films chosen are either by Haitian filmmakers or about Haiti and for the first time, an open selection process, with an online application, permitted filmmakers to be able to submit their own films for review.

HCX Program Intern Fania Noel scanned the film world landscape, looked at other festivals, recently released films, and recommendations from the Fest Advisory Committee, comprised of a number of Haitian filmmakers and members of the film community.

From a pre-selection of 40, HCX Director Regine Roumain curated the 16 films.

Filmmakers hail from Haiti, the U.S., Canada and Europe and a number of films from Haiti’s Cine Institute graduates are on the program, providing exposure for these emerging filmmakers.

The Festival wraps up on May 15 from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. with a closing night reception at HCX headquarters at FiveMyles Gallery and a screening of Mario Delatour’s “Storming Papa Doc.”

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