RIFF Movies Archive

Broken Stones

2012, XDCAM - Color - 60 minutes

Guetty Felin

Hervé Cohen

Hervé Cohen

Yeelen Cohen

Marie-Agnès Azuelos/Guetty Felin

Enfin Bref Productions/BelleMoon Productions


The oldest neighborhood of the city of Port-au-Prince, Quartier Cathédrale (Cathedral Quarter) is one of the most symbolic in the history of Haiti. It is in this very neighborhood that the city was founded in 1749 and it is also in the older wooden cathedral where Jean-Jacques Dessalines was crowned emperor of Haiti in 1804. Cathedral quarter was also the hardest hit by the terrifying earthquake on January 12th 2010, it is there that the bulk of the documentary Broken Stones was shot. With its erected columns and open air, the ruins of the cathedral resembles an amphitheater where the daily realities of Haitian life unfolds. Amidst the vestige of what was once the most beautiful cathedrals in the entire Caribbean, children play, women pray, some carry pails and jugs of water from the nearby tap, a white man dressed in black hooded priest garb appears out of no where, followed by a cameraman, foreign missionaries snap pictures as they pray for lost souls in a house of worship that does not belong to them, men and women roam almost aimlessly in this post apocalyptic decor.... These images are amongst the impressionist moments interwoven into the narrative fabric of this captivating documentary. The décor is also forum-like, where the voiceless come to recount the tragic day, express their concerns and impatience with the reconstruction process, but also their aspirations for the country of their dreams. Beautifully photographed mixing cinema vérité and observational documentary style, this well crafted poetic film is personal and yet endearingly political. Haiti, like it has rarely been shown.

I am a Haitian-American filmmaker who has shared her life between America, Haiti and France. My sensibility, vision and cinematic language have been highly influenced and shaped by my life experience in all three countries. I fell in love with cinema at a very early age at the drive-ins in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The “electric shadows” on that glowing screen were a stark contrast to our realities and yet they deeply connected us to the outside world. Cinema, for me, became my own little sanctuary, my personal way of filling those chasms that were wedged by an insidious political system. I began seeing my parents and the adults around me like characters in a film that I was incessantly writing and directing. Today, after several decades, a few documentaries, some fiction shorts, two narrative screenplays, and a couple of beautiful babies later, cinema is an organic part of who I am. Cinema is how I engage the world around me, how I denounce social and political injustice, how I explore haunting themes such as memory, exile, foreignness, and the unending search for home, and also how I interconnect our common global humanities.




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