Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

The Forgotten Occupation: Jim Crow goes to Haiti

Film exploring Haiti’s racist occupation by the United States will make its Los Angeles Debut at the Haiti International Film Festival.


BALDWIN, N.Y.Aug. 5, 2023PRLogThe Forgotten Occupation: Jim Crow goes to Haiti

The Forgotten Occupation: Jim Crow goes to Haiti is the work of writer-director Alain Martin who, along with producer Hans Augustave, spent ten years laboring over the project. The feature length documentary debuted at The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival in June where it was crowned Outstanding Documentary Feature by the jury and also took home the Audience Choice Award. The film is a personal examination of the now forgotten occupation of Haiti at the hands of American marines who, coming from a segregated society, imposed their own set of Jim Crow practices in the country. The Forgotten Occupation is both timely and relevant, as it arrives at a moment in which many are openly advocating for another American intervention, seeing it as the only way to rescue a nation that has been made socially and politically dysfunctional by the confluence of a set of crises that have been decades in the making.

Martin and Augustave’s goal is to broaden the perspective and understanding of their country, a country that they feel is constantly mischaracterized and belittled with little to no historical context. The documentary traces the ways in which the American occupation forever handicapped Haiti. Furthermore, any discussion of Haiti’s troubles over the last century must involve a mention of that violent occupation, a fact that the mainstream media is either unaware of or does not care to mention.

The director and producer team also feel that it is important that the memory of those who suffered under the 19 year occupation be preserved. For as the world was consumed with the gruesome violence of World War I, made possible by new innovations in weaponry, that same violence upended the lives of thousands of Haitians who had no means to fight back. According to historian Hans Schmidt, who appears in the film, Haiti holds the distinction of being the first country ever subjected to aerial bombardment, a practice that was to become widespread in the major wars that followed in the 20th century. Many Haitians were driven into forced labor camps where they perished and, according to one estimate by historian Myrtha Gilbert, who is also in the film, about one fourth of Haitians were forced to flee the country, a fact that utterly devastated the island nation.

Jacquil Constant, who founded the Haiti International Film Festival 8 years ago in an attempt to increase the visibility of Haitian cinema, credits the decision to select the film based on the “filmmakers’ superb attention to detail”, “with the juxtaposition of narration and archival footage” he continues, the film does “a great job job capturing the American Occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934.”

The film, which interweaves Martin’s complex relationship with his US-loving grandfather, cinema verité, and captivating interviews features award-winning and prolific novelist Edwidge Dandicat,  writer and professor Yveline Alexis, political activist Patrick Elie, as well as professor of the Humanities, Laurent DuBois.

The Forgotten Occupation: Jim Crow goes to Haiti will play at the Haiti International Film Festival on Saturday, August 19th.

A trailer for the film is available here.


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