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5 Reasons To Remain Hopeful About Haitis Movie Industry

The Haitian movie industry! I remember how my grandmother used to sit there and watch her little Haitian movies. Boy, do I remember. She would sit there and watch them over and over. And every time we had someone visit, she would put one on, and they would start reminiscing and soon she would have this look on her face, and I would figure that she was probably scheming in her mind about buying her ticket to go to Haiti. But what of the Haitian movies these days? Looking around on Facebook, and reading up on Haitian movies these days, it doesn’t seem to be as prolific as a few years ago. But, goshdurn it, there’s still reason to remain hopeful about Haiti’s movie industry. Firstly, there were photos floating on social media of Haiti’s renovated Cine Triomphe, and then there has been reports of a second movie theater also awaiting renovations.
Haitian movie industry
Above: Inside Cine Triomphe, Haiti’s movie theater. Photo Credit: Hector Retamal.

1. So many stories yet untold.
Unlike the movie industry out here where everything has been told, retold, and overly-sequalized, Haiti’s movie industry is still budding. There’s probably not a thousand teen movies in Haiti’s national catalog treating adolescent angst, or hundred-plus features with coming-of-age storylines. I read somewhere that the Lumiere Brothers screened a film in Haiti back in 1899. So, Haiti was an early recipient of this innovation, but hasn’t been a major world leader when it comes to producing them. The fact that Haiti’s movie industry has not explored certain themes actually makes it virgin territory for a screenwriter or filmmaker wishing to tackle such topics in a script or eventual film.

2. Unexplored platforms.
Ever go on Netflix and type the word Haiti and Haitian movies? I haven’t personally, but I bet the results would probably not be too numerous. And what about Amazon? Have you typed in Haitian movies? The results? Mostly documentaries. So, what does that mean? Well, those two platforms are two of the biggest and fastest growing platforms in the film industry. The fact that there aren’t any films from Haiti on these platforms, or there are few says one word: opportunity!
Haitian movie industry
Above: A still from Kamelo, a film by Haiti-based film director Jean-Claude Bourjolly.

3. A hungry, ready-to-see and spend audience.
Websites like MovieLakay stay thriving, and that’s in part due to this audience out there who cannot get enough of Haiti’s movie stars and their films. I think that because of social media, us folks in the lower-end generation (18-44) are open to seeing and exploring Haitian films too.

4. Talent bustle and hustling hard, waiting for a breakthrough.
Take a look at Facebook Haiti and Twitter Haiti, and Haiti seems to be a nest for theatre groups and aspiring actors. Talent, talent everywhere. Haiti is not short on thespians. They only need an outlet to show off their talent on the big screen. And over here in good ole USA, folks are mentally and physically writing scripts with Haiti in mind. Filmmakers and screenwriters of Haitian descent such as Stefani St. Onge, Myrlande Charelus, Perri Pierre, and Dominique Morisseau have all voiced the desire to contribute to Haiti’s film industry, while veterans of Haiti’s home-grown industry are privately busy planning their next moves.

Haitian movie industry
Above: People lining up at a movie theatre in Haiti’s second largest city Cap Haitien. [Photo Credit: Bye Bye Papa Facebook]

5. New outlets for Haitian film.
More than 100 years after Haiti has its first film screening, technology has provided other ways than the standard theater showing to show and market films, and if filmmakers involved with Haiti’s film industry take advantage of all the avenues available to them, they can increase their revenues. We Love You Anne, the sequel to a film entitled I Love You Anne is available for streaming on YouTube, and unlike several Haitian films that are available in their entirety on Youtube, this one is on sale at $2.99. Outlets such as YouTube, Amazon Instant Video not only make it possible for Haitian filmmakers to reach younger audiences, but it also makes it more within-the-reach of secondary markets, and other audience tiers that perhaps they had not intended to target, but who may have an interest in watching Haitian movies.

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