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Hispaniola (Working Title)

Status
Type
Producers Michèle Stephenson, Jennifer Holness, Joe Brewster, Lea Marin

Synopsis

In 2013 the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic upheld legislation that stripped citizenship from individuals of Haitian heritage born in that country.

Hispaniola is a feature documentary that will take audiences on a cinematic journey through the day-to-day lives of people directly impacted by these new laws. There is Elena Lorac, a young Dominican of Haitian descent whose fall into statelessness has rendered her invisible, forced to function below the radar and avoid confrontation when attacked because of her ancestry; Amelia Deschamps is a Dominican journalist who has spoken out against these laws and unexpectedly finds herself the target of death threats from anti-Haitian right-wing nationalists; and contrasting this view is Gladys Feliz, the co-founder of the nationalist movement Los Hijos de Duarte (The Sons of Duarte). She wishes people would better understand the kind of economic and social pressure her country faces with the constant stream of poverty stricken Haitians entering the Dominican Republic, and supports the deportation of Haitian migrants and their descendants.

Interweaving their present day stories with magical realist inspired personal accounts of the 1937 Parsley Massacre (over 20,000 Haitians killed at the hands of Dominican soldiers), the film will beautifully juxtapose how past and present converge as it explores themes of genocide and otherness.

Hispaniola hopes to provide audiences with a spellbinding visual narrative that reflects on the larger questions of how imposed borders; citizenship and racial identity define us and may seal our fate.

About The Team

Michèle Stephenson (Director) is a co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, and is a filmmaker, artist and author. Stephenson, pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling, deeply personal stories in a variety of media that resonate and push beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including, TED Talks, PBS, Showtime and MTV. Stephenson is a recipient of a Guggenheim and Sundance Skoll Stories of Change Fellowships. Her film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys and also won the Jury Prize at Sundance. Recognition for her work also includes the Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Breakthrough Award and the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society was awarded for her community engagement accomplishments. Stephenson’s recent book, Promises Kept, written along with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Joe Brewster (Producer) is a Producer and Director and a Harvard trained psychiatrist who uses his psychological training as the foundation in approaching the social issues he tackles as a filmmaker. Brewster, in conjunction with his Rada Film Group co-founder, Michèle Stephenson, has created stories using installation, narrative, documentary and print mediums that have garnered support from critics and audiences internationally. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC and the MacArthur Foundation. Brewster is a Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee. His recent documentary film American Promise was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African American Film Critics’ Association Award. Brewster’s outreach accomplishments include a Revere Award, NAACP Image Award for the best selling companion book Promises Kept, and a BritDoc Prize for developing one of the most innovative outreach campaigns in 2014.

Jennifer Holness (Producer) has earned credits and awards that span a wide variety of scripted and documentary work for film and television. Her writing and producing credits include: Speakers For The Dead (CBC); Badge of Pride (CBC & PBS); Brick By Brick (Omni); Yin Yin Jade Love (TVO); Dolores: Art of An Art Modeling (Bravo!); Home Again; Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones; Guns (CBC miniseries); She’s the Mayor (Vision TV); Shoot the Messenger (CBC). Her work has garnered top honors including, Canadian Academy Screen Awards, PAFF– BAFTA Festival Choice Award, Best First Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, and a nomination from Director’s Guild of Canada for Best Directing.