Film: German Premiere of Philippe Niang’s “Toussaint Louverture”


Hosted by AfricAvenir, the German premiere of Toussaint Louverture will take place on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at 5:00pm at Hackesche Höfe Kino. French-Senegalese director Philippe Niang will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion and reception. [See more on Toussaint Louverture in our previous posts and Jean McGianni Celestin Interviews Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis.]

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.

This is the long overdue first feature film 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 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.

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.

Some of the comments on this film include:

“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

The screening is 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, |+|, Exberliner,, Art Labour Archives, Research Group Cosmopolitan Film Cultures (Dr. Markus Heide, Department of English and American Studies) at Humboldt University, AFROTAK TV cyberNomads and Planète Métis.

[Many thanks to Alanna Lockward and Eric Van Grasdorff for bringing this screening to our attention.]

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