Olivier Barlet interviews Haitian filmmaker Pierre Lucson Bellegarde about his film Carmen. Selected at the “Fabrique des cinémas du monde” in Cannes 2013, this is a feature film project by Bellegarde, who studied at the Ciné Institute in Jacmel; the film depicts a young deaf-mute Haitian woman who, in order to participate in a folk dance contest, seeks help from a former gay dancer who had become a recluse after being violently attacked. Here are excerpts with a link to the full interview below:
What was your experience in the master class by Raoul Peck, who is Haitian like you?—It was a very moving occasion that made me realize how important it is to take your time, not to rush. I have great respect for him. This is the only Haitian who has arrived at that international level. He produces very political cinema. Personally, I prefer social issues, but I listen carefully to his advice.
Your feature film project, entitled Carmen, brings together two marginal groups, homosexuality and disability, two big issues! Why Carmen, a repeated theme in cinema?—I had not thought of the work of Prosper Mérimée at the beginning. For me, Carmen is a common name! The topic of my film is social and unrelated to the Carmen reference, but I guess it can generate [critical] approaches or curiosity.
How do you approach disability as a result of the earthquake?—The story existed before the earthquake and I have not yet integrated it in the scenario. But I’m working on it. I did a lot of research so that reality is very present, while playing on the metaphor of disability. Bois caïman, revolution, Vaudou, and their potential for revolt are used to cross social barriers.
Haitian culture denotes a brimming imagination: is your project more naturalistic or does the imaginary dimension take over?—I do not want to develop the mystical side too much but even when avoiding to talk about it, we talk about it! The three rituals danced in trance cannot be ignored because they are part of our history: the dance of love, the dance of sensuality, and the dance of war, which are related to a color and a spirit. Vaudou is marginalized but there is a lot of hypocrisy: it is practiced in secret, even by members of the bourgeoisie. It is like a refusal of one’s origins.
Is the spiritual dimension important to you?—Yes. I was born into a Christian family, as opposed to Vaudou practice. My father is a pastor. Once I attended a Vaudou temple, he heard about it, and he was very angry because he believes that Vaudou is the enemy of religion. But at the film school, the question returned. I went to shoot in temples, accompanied by French professionals to whom I was showing Haitian culture. The drum dance is everywhere, it’s in our veins; we cannot deny it. It is a cultural issue: I do not practice Vaudou, but it is an amazing dimension of our culture, not lacking in genius. I think it important to tell this to the world.
For full article, see http://www.africultures.com/php/index.php?nav=article&no=11710