On Sunday 24 Novembre 2013 at 17h00 AfricAvenir invites you to the German Premiere of the fiction film « Toussaint Louverture » by french-senegalese director Philippe Niang, the long overdue first fiction ever made about the man who, born into slavery, became a General in the French army and even defied Napoleon’s power by making his homeland, Haïti, the first independent Black State in the world, an abolitionist and anti-colonialist State. In three hours, director Philippe Niang draws a breathtaking historical epic which perfectly translates the complex personality of the hero of Haitian independence and of the liberation of Black peoples.
“Director Philip Niang craftfully weaves the dynamic story of this emblematic and universal hero in a comprehensive, two-part drama, keeping you on the edge of your seat (…) This is a must-see for people of all origins.” Suzanne Gregoire, The Sentinel
This three-hour screening will be opened by the Chargé d´Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti, Monsieur Patrick Saint-Hilaire. Due to the length of the film, it will be separated into two parts by a brief intermission and followed by a discussion with director Philippe Niang and the producers France Zobda & Jean-Lou Monthieux as well as by a small reception. The film is screened in French and Haitian Creole with English subtitles.
Supported by Brot für die Welt – Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst, Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation, Embassy of Haïti in Berlin and Zentrum Moderner Orient. In cooperation with: Club des Amis de RFI, Berlin Poche,|+| rendez-vous-cine.de, Exberliner, multicult.fm, Art Labour Archives, Research Group Cosmopolitan Film Cultures (Dr. Markus Heide, Department of English and American Studies) at Humboldt University, AFROTAK TV cyberNomads, Planète Métis, Africiné, Allacine, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD), AFROTAK TV cyberNomads, Lateinamerika Forum Berlin, Forschungs- and Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika (FDCL).
We are at the end of the 18th century. The French revolution is brewing. All parts of the French territory are affected. An island, Saint-Domingue which will later become Haïti, thanks to one man, will take its destiny into its own hands. This man is Toussaint Louverture. A strong character imbued by democratic convictions and convinced by the values and potential new benefits of the nascent republic, he joins France after having fought with the Spanish, the British and after having refused the alliance with the American States. Some years later, he will even defy Napoleon’s power and will enable his homeland, Haïti, to become the first independent Black State in the world, an abolitionist and anti-colonialist State. From his prison at Fort de Joux, it is himself who will analyse with wisdom his own behaviour in the context of each situation. Not easy for this man who had to take and assume alone his often difficult decisions in an ambiguous historic and political context… Here is the story of a man who fought all his life against colonialism and slavery.n
“The breathtaking epic entirely lives up to the symbol it pays tribute to: Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) (…) by dedicating him two prime time evening slots, France2 gives a strong visibility to this barely known hero of French history. (…) Both intense and easy dialogue lines, the high quality of interpretation especially of the main characters, the scenery and costumes… All elements are in place.” Le Monde
“The film by Philippe Niang is faithful to what has been remembered of Toussaint Louverture – François-Dominique Toussaint of his true name – spectacularly interpreted here by Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis. We can be thankful to the producers to have avoided a one-sided bashing of the colonial system reigning at the time in the European colonies. Far from making Louverture a strictly heroic figure, Philippe Niang uses three hours to construct a complex character, at prey to doubts, often uncompromising, and who would also not escape making ambiguous political choices.” L’Histoire, Bruno Calvès
“Something of a throwback to the epic historical minis of the 1980’s, Louverture is sweeping, melodramatic, and ennobling in a very satisfying way. As one might expect, Jimmy Jean-Louis’s dynamic lead performance is the key. He is suitably intense, without allowing Louverture to degenerate into a fire-breathing revolutionary stereotype. Likewise, Philippe Caroit genuinely humanizes the French old guard as the decidedly un-Legree-ish Bayon (…) A French television veteran, Niang’s tele-movie Prohibited Love (which screened at the 2010 ADIFF) also dealt with racial themes pointedly, but without wallowing in didacticism. Louverture is even better. » Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazin
It indeed needed twice 90 minutes to shoot this extraordinary chapter of history, little known by French people due to it’s being superseded by the military exploits of the Napoleonian era, which, let’s recall this fact, reinstituted slavery in the colonies. The casting choices are sometimes questionable and the script, in sometimes opting for too hastily shortcuts misses out on explaining how the liberated slave transformed into the natural leader of his people. However, this does not in any way undermine the value of the performance of starring Jimmy Jean-Louis, who is able to restore the nobility and ardour of the personality. The dazzling production flatters the noble and chivalric side of Toussaint Louverture, who fought side by side with the Spanish and British and refused the alliance with the American States before joining France, which in the end caused his defeat. This fiction sometimes recalls the Roots-Saga, which will please the fans of the genre.” Gert-Peter Bruch, Culture Club
“Toussaint Louverture does a very good job in illustrating the complex thicket of racial politics and strategic alliances that went into the process of Haïti’s independence. Also, Jimmy Jean-Louis is a riveting presence as Louverture, and brings an impressive sense of gravity and a sense of the human being behind the historical figure.” Christopher Bourne Blog
“What strikes most and is quite well translated into the film is that Toussaint’s was a journey strewn with obstacles. The situation was not as simple as the Whites on one side and the Blacks on the other, but there were numerous rival factions. Their treasons, their contradictory actions caused his defeat and capture. Be it as it may, before his miserable ending in a freezing cell of Fort de Joux in the Jura Mountains, Toussaint had nevertheless laid the foundations of a future State, which still exists today ( despite endemic poverty), freed once and for all of slavery and colonialism. A real exploit in 1800.” Vincent Ostria, Les Inrockuptibles
“However, Toussaint’s life possesses all the twists and turns necessary to any good fiction: born a slave in Saint-Domingue in 1743, he is liberated by his master at the age of 33, learns to read and write and later takes the lead of the rebellion of his people by first joining the Spanish and later returning to the French camp. All these peripeties are explained with clarity and pedagogy in this TV drama filmed in the landscapes of Martinique.” Joséphine Lebard
The Team about the Film :
"This film allows to enlighten the public in a positive way on Haïti, particularly after the earthquake, and also to recall some historic realities: for example, that this "pearl of the Antilles" has made France rich (…)"nJimmy Jean-Louis (Toussaint Louverture)
Toussaint was omnipresent during my childhood in Haïti : at school we of course also learned the story of Toussaint who led his people to freedom. For the great majority of the Black people and for me, he is a hero. Toussaint is extremely important not only in Haïti, but also in the world because he gave birth to the first Black Republic. (…) I was thus very happy and also honoured by France Zobda et Jean-Lou Monthieux’s proposal to be part of this project. I could only say ‘yes’, despite the huge pressure that rested on me for this first fictional incarnation on TV of Toussaint Louverture. From the beginning, I was very conscious of the fact that every gesture, every word, its pronunciation, my costume, everything would be scrutinised. This responsibility, I had to assume it. I nevertheless went through some difficult times with the character because he is multifaceted: slave, then liberated, General, Governor, and finally a lonely, feeble and humiliated person. I had to get into the state of mind of a different person at each of these stages. (…) I sincerely wish that the audience finally recognises this man who has fought for freedom his entire life. Then, if the film encourages people to find out more about the Haitian revolution – which in some way has been the equivalent of the French revolution – and about Haït’s history in general, it would of course be fantastic. (…) I would like people to see other images of this island than the persistently negative images that they know.”
France Zobda (Producer)
“Since ten years, our production company Eloa Prod realises projects which speak of those parts of our history which are related to different cultures, which are hardly visible although so complimentary of France’s richness. (…) Through this film, we also wanted to pay tribute to this important figure of French history, who achieved what seemed inaccessible at his epoch: Freedom for his people. (…) It is a controversial figure of France’s history: a former slave who became a Governor and even dared defy Bonaparte and demand the freedom of Saint-Domingue, his homeland ! This French colony, the richest of all, would then gain independence under the name of Haïti. Historians still fail to grasp the scope of this autodidact and his historic dimension: through his actions, he has given birth to the first Black Republic in the world. We had to pay justice to this forgotten or suppressed figure of France’s history. (…) This man was at the same time admired, feared and hated, both by the Whites and the Blacks. We have tried to avoid all manicheism prone to oppose good and bad et to portray a perfect and stainless hero. We wanted to show how Toussaint was prone to doubting and to which point he can provoke incomprehension.”
France Camus and Thierry Sorel, Directors of the Fiction Unit at France 2
The richness of fictions in public service is its diversity, the possibility to discover, it is also the elucidation of lesser known parts of our history. It consists in telling the stories of historic figures with an incredible destiny. In 1791, when Toussaint Louverture enters History, he is 48 years old, he becomes an icon and emblem for all oppressed peoples. (…) Since the genesis of this project, our wish, and that of the producers, has been to offer the audience a film combining intelligence and entertainment. The wager was won. The screenwriters tell us a story full of energy and passions… The production is generous, epic, full of life … (…) it took all the determination and the passion of the producers, France Zobda and Jean-Lou Monthieux, to successfully accomplish this adventure. Thanks to them for this beautiful success of which we are very proud at France 2 ! There are projects which have to climb mountains so high… that they get wings…” France 2
- Best Film Award, Pan African Film, Los Angeles (USA), 2012
- People’s Choice award, Pan African Film, Los Angeles (USA), 2012
- Best Actor Award (Jimmy Jean-Louis), Pan African Film, Los Angeles (USA), 2012
- Special Mention from the Jury, Festival Vues d’Afrique, Montréal (Québec), 2012
- Notre Afrik Award for Best Actor (Jimmy JEAN-LOUIS), Festival Vues d’Afrique, Montréal (Québec), 2012
- Best Diaspora Film Award, The Africa Movie Academy Awards (Oscars Africains), Lagos/NIGERIA, 2012
- People’s Choice Award, Trinidad &Tobago Film Festival
- Best Actor Award (Jimmy JEAN-LOUIS), Trinidad &Tobago Film Festival
- Best Director Award (Philippe NIANG), Boston(USA), The Motion Picture Association of Haïti, 2012
- Best Film Award, New York (USA), The People’s Film Festival, 2013.
- Special Mention for Best Director (Philippe Niang), Festival International du film de Zanzibar (ZIFF), 2012
nDirector: Philippe Niang
After studying in Nice, France, and in Paris at the prestigious IDHEC (High Cinematographic Studies Institute), Philippe Niang became an assistant for television. Thereafter, he directed many documentaries, and then his first features, being also the screenwriter for TV programs including “Mammy Mamours”, shot in Senegal, and “Gaffe Loulou !”, for which he won the Golden Angel award at the International Film Festival of Nice. As a director and screenwriter, Philippe Niang’s efforts include directing French actor Guy Marchand in an episode from the TV series “Nestor Burma”, creating the famous TV series “Josephine, the Guardian Angel”, writing “A Black Baby in a White Cradle” (selected in the TV Festival of Luchon) as well as “The Big Brothers”, among many others. Another landmark in Philippe Niang’s career was his meeting the two producers of Eloa Prod, France Zobda and Jean-Lou Monthieux, with whom he shares many convictions; for them, he wrote and directed “Prohibited Love” (selected in the FESPACO – Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; in the African Diaspora International Film Festival in New York; and in the Vues d’Afrique film festival in Montreal) and “Toussaint Louverture”. And to share all this experiences, he teaches at CEEA : Conservatoire Européen d’Ecriture Audiovisuelle.
- 1993 : Les Aventuriers d’Eden River
- 1997 : Joséphine, ange gardien
- 1997 : Miracle à l’Eldorado
- 1999 : Gaffe Loulou !
- 2003 : Les Grands Frères
- 2003 : Un bébé noir dans un couffin blanc
- 2004 : Vous êtes de la région?
- 2005 : Si j’avais des millions
- 2007 : Le Fantôme du lac
- 2009 : Pas de toit sans moi
- 2009 : Les Amants de l’ombre
- 2012 : Toussaint Louverture
- 1989 : Un privé au soleil, trois épisodes
- 1997 : Miracle à l’Eldorado
- 1998 : Nestor Burma épisode Une aventure de Nestor Burma
- 1999 : Gaffe Loulou !
- 2000 : Le Crocodile
- 2007 : Le Fantôme du lac
- 2009 : Les Amants de l’ombre
- 2012 : Toussaint Louverture
Philippe Niang, Fiction, France, 2012, 180 min.
With: Jimmy Jean-Louis, Aïssa Maïga, Arthur Jugnot, Pierre Cassignard, Eric Viellard, Magloire Delcros-Varaud, Philippe Caroit, Féodor Atkine, Ruddy Sylaire, Hubert Koundé, Thierry Desroses, Yann Ebongé, Valérie Mairesse, Sonia Rolland
Sunday, 24 Novembre 2013
Entrance Fee: 14,00 € (2 Films of 90 min. each)
Tickets & Information
030/ 283 4603
Hackesche Höfe Kino
S Hackescher Markt
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