After Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood… The future of Haitian film is assured with Jollywood!
Changing lives through films this is what the Cine Institute is doing by offering free classes to the next generation of Haitian filmmakers…
We are going to discover how the Cine Institute, now Artists Institute has impacted the life of these 5 former students, that I had the pleasure to meet during the Montreal Black Film Festival.
1) When did you know you wanted to be in the art field? and what did you want to do? or did you really find out what you wanted to do at the Cine Institute?
Alexandrine : At a very early age, I always loved watching movie, but not just any movies. What made me unhappy is that i did not get as much pleasure in watching Haitian movies as I did when i watched foreign films. Majority of Haitian movies were bad whether it’s the acting or the technical side of it. However, our country is rich in culture and has a unique history. So, I decided to go to film school, so i could help make better Haitian films, by giving it a professional touch…
Keziah: Right away after the first year has Cine Institute, I wanted to write only. I wanted to become a screenwriter. Several teachers have noticed other abilities in me and now I am director, camerawoman, editing.
Andre Deave: Since I was 12, I grew up in an artistic environment. I always directed small theater play at school , and thanks to the Cine Institute, I can realize my dream to bring forward Haitian cinema.
Gabriel: I grow up in art, my father was an artist. I remember, he used to force me to draw, he gave me his conception about art, work hard, keep the feeling. But, at that age I did not find myself in the art field, I thought about doing something else. I think that the ”passage” in art happened on its own. After school I just wanted to do something which fit my personality and it happened to be art. At Cine Institute I found the confirmation about what I could really do and I took the decision to be a great filmmaker.
Cesar Bougon: The City of Jacmel is known for its arts and crafts, so I was either born an artist, being born in Jacmel is a privilege. It’s like being in born in a living art gallery. Before Cine Institute I already had started working in the Art field with Didier Civil, who is the greatest Jacmelien craftsmen on “Rue Sainte Anne.” I always participated in cultural activities in my neighborhood I am always the project initiator, I saw in myself a producer and Cine Institute gave me the opportunity to become one.
2) How was your experience at the Cine Institute?
Alexandrine: This period of my life where i had to forget about everything to become who i wanted to be. Right after high school I had to tell the bad news ” I was going to study film/tv production.” It was a huge disappointment for my family. They tried everything to stop me, but I already had made my decision. In Haiti you only learn a profession that makes you able to survive and feed your family. Abandoned by my parents, some other relatives, and friends, I had to overcome obstacles knowing that my goal is attainable.
Keziah: It was one of my best experience, I have found my true value, true worth at Cine Institute.
André-Deave: My experience at Cine Institute was, is, and will remain great because even after I graduated the school pushed me to pursue my personal goals .
Gabriel: Cine Institute was a great experience! It’s the place where I found the motivation to be a real artist. I met great people who were involved in the field, who understand what young people really want to go through this career, people who advised me and believed in my talent and in who I am. I think that the experience at Ciné Institute had build my personality in a certain way and had ”façonner” (built) my conception about art and filmmaking.
Cesar Bougon: Ciné Institute is another world in the world we live in. My experience at Ciné Institute was amazing, We were a family student and staff. Ciné Institute have helped me develop my talents and now I really know who I am. I am Bougon and I can participate in the social and economic growth of my country Haiti that I love a lot. 2 years of misery… But this has taught us many things and it gave us Audio Institute, which is the sister school of the Ciné Institute and today we are Artists Institute.
I am André-Deave Decime. I am a young Haitian director and producer. My goal is to make good movies and share the culture of my country to the world. Filmmaking is my life and I live for it!
3) How did your experience at Ciné Institute has impacted your life in general and affected your professional life today?
Alexandrine: Ciné Institute taught me to be myself, to accept, and love myself the way I am. I am currently a cineast and a community leader. A very good amount of my work has to do with social issues different issues affecting Haitian society. I used films as a way to bring awareness.
Keziah: Sometimes when I’m in the street I used to hear whispers like : she is the director… She did the ” Happy Haiti ” etc…. that makes me proud. I feel important in my environment in my country.
André-Deave: I got to network and meet different person from this industry.
Gabriel: Cine Institute taught me how to live in communities, how to support each other, how to believe in a same dream and make this dream come true. I also learned at Cine Institute how weak I am when I work by myself and what are advantages we have working together. It thought me how to support people even if you don’t have same ideas. It taught me how to be a leader. He taught me about what life is… About how connected is the world…How a simple decision can change things. It made me a responsible citizen. And, I think that’s all I try to show in my movies, in my writings, and in my paintings.
Cesar Bougon: To talk about my experience and the impact the Cine Institute had on my life could take a week, but let me tell you one thing! The Cine Institute had a positive economic impact since after my graduation I started working at the Cine Institute as a freelance in a department for the graduates “Cine Servives.” I could manage my finances, and now I work full time at the Cine Institute as a Campus Operations Manager. Now the social impact I participate to develop Tourism projects by producing small videos 35 sec to a minute to show the beauty of our dear little Haiti .
My name Wood Jerry Gabriel. I was born in Jacmel, south east of Haiti. At the age of six I move at Carrefour near the capital, Port-au-Prince, where I go to school. My father, Martineau Gabriel, was an artist. At an early age he initiated me in drawing and painting. At fifteen, I found a passion for writing and I became a poet… In 2010, I integrated the FOSAJ (Foyer d’orientation et de soutien aux artistes Jacmeliens) for studying painting to follow my father’s footsteps. Two years after my passion for writing and storytelling. I wanted to study two things: Journalism and filmmaking. After two years at the Cine Institute of Jacmel, I found my motivation in filmmaking and started my career. Now I work alternate between filmmaking, radio and literature.
4) What are some of the most important lessons you have learned while you were at the Ciné Institute?
Alexandrine: I learned that a leader is not the one who gives his opinion, but the one who can defend it.
Keziah: I’ve learned that cinema does not have limit, you always have something to learn, even after several Oscars( lol)… It makes me humble and walk with dignity into the future.
André-Deave: At Cine Institute you learn a lot of things, but there are two sentences that help me overcome difficult times : 1) pa fot mwen (it’s not my fault ) this sentence is banned at the Cine Institute; a way for everyone is to be held accountable. 2) The future it is today not tomorrow.
Gabriel: Always do what you want to do… Be aware of the consequences! Believe in yourself, in your talent, be who you are. I think that these are the most important lessons that I have learned at Cine Institute.
Cesar Bougon : Cine Institute has taught us to live as brothers and sisters and that we are a team. The greatest lesson Bougon has learned from Cine Institute is that on this earth we are one people only color distinguishes us, but we are one and we are all brothers and sisters there is no superior race, French , Italian , African, Canadian, American and all other people our blood has the same color.
I am Cesar Bougon Massena. I’m 30. I was born in Jacmel from a family of 6 children. I am the fourth and the first boy in the family. Young Haitian cineaste, director, and producer. I was among the first intake to graduate of Jacmel Artist Institute the only filmmaking school in Haiti. I have worked on many projects with Paul Haggis, David Belle, Donna Karan, Kevan Bean, Sony Pictures, UNDP, Arcade Fire Italia TV just to name a few . My goal is to see in the next few years Jollywood filmmaking industry in Haiti and it will as well contribute to the development of my beautiful country Haiti.
5) “Unity makes strength” are you always working together? What are some difficulties sometimes you have while working together?
Alexandrine: Filmmaking is a team effort. It is clear that we all got different background and it is not easy to work together. Often one’s priority may not be another’s priority, but we strive and try to excel. Haïti needs us, so we put our ego aside and go forward.
Keziah: It is not easy to work together. The conditions of our country separate us sometimes specially for economic reasons, and some of us have to leave the profession and others leave for other things.But, we did our best to stay welded.
André Dave: The difficulty is always on set, but we always overcome these little arguments for the sake of the project…
Gabriel: Even if we know that we must work together, easier said than done cause we don’t have all have the same interests after school. In Haiti above There are many things… Difficulties of life, difficulties to find money to do film, people are discouraged and try to do something else, some of them find jobs and have more difficulties to do film.
Cesar Bougon: When we work together the difficulties are diverse, sometimes it’s equipment problems, teamwork especially punctuality with artists (Actors). Sometime we have financial difficulties because in Haiti investors do not invest in Filmmaking. We use our own means because we believe in our project.
6) what advice would you give to new students?
Alexandrine: Like any other profession, Filmmaking is not easy and the market is even more difficult. You need a goal , discipline, you have to be bold and tell yourself that impossible is nothing.
Keziah: Filmmaking is not the easiest industry if you do not have the passion and desire to work, then quit it. “Love it or leave it ”
André-Deave: To believe in their dreams and start working on it the first day of class.
Gabriel: I advise new students to find their own way at Cine Institute, work hard, keep the feeling. Filmmaking is not a question of what they want you to do not even what the public expects, they don’t know what they want, they want what you’ll give them.Your cinema your way to express yourself. There are many discourses, but yours it’s that who counts. We are the new wave of Haitian filmmaking, we have a things to say and to give to the world, a discourse from our heart, our soul, our culture.
Cesar Bougon: My advice to new students is to put their souls, their hearts, their heads in the school. Because to learn a profession in Haiti is not easy and they are the future. We are counting on them, and to stay positive. Let’s go Jollywood.
7) What’s the next project for you?
Alexandrine: I am working on several projects , but I actually am focused on a documentary about children who have been sold it a few years ago in an area of the country.
Keziah: I’m working on several projects my last documentary is to finalize “Let’s Roll” a documentary about the coming elections in Haiti.
André-Deave: I’m currently working with Pierre Fabrice my co-director who is a also graduate of Cine Institute on this documentary about disabled people.
Gabriel: Actually, I’m in pre-production of a short documentary about Jacmel, a beautiful part in south east Haiti, where I was born, declared creative city by the UNESCO in 2014. I work also on my second short fiction film which I envisage to shoot in March.
Cesar Bougon: My next project is a documentary about Vodoo and the name of the documentary is the United Nations of Vodoo, I would like my brothers and sisters to know what’s Haitian Vodoo.
A word from David Belle.
David Belle is the founder of Ciné Institute. In 1993, after his first trip to Haiti to help shed light on the nation’s struggle for democracy that his new found love for the country emerged. Since then he has never stopped working for the country. He is currently the CEO of Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ). With Paul Haggis Founder of APJ and help of others they extended Cine Institute, that became Artists Institute a college for art and technology. They also now have Academy for Peace and Justice, a private high school for underprivileged students.
What made you want to do a cine institute in Haiti? and why the city of Jacmel?
Cine Institute was born out of a local film festival that we started in 2004. We realized that local audiences wanted local content and that local youth wanted to learn how to make movies. Next step was team them in order to grow local industry, so that’s what we’ve done. As for Jacmel, I fell in love with it in the early 90s and built a house there in 1996. It’s my second home and one of those special places on the planet where there is a great long tradition of artists and creativity.
How does the Ciné Institute develop talent and help student to grow and be their best?
We start by choosing the best potential local talent, then we provide them with a super intensive full time college level education that is theoretical, technical and production heavy. Upon graduation we help place graduates in permanent jobs, support them in starting their own local companies and sub contract a lot of work out to them as free lancers via our employment division.
When you look at former students what are you the most proud about?
There’s a stigma around being an artist or a filmmaker in Haiti, so one of the great rewards is to see graduates become financially independent and successful.
We’ve heard so many stories of families who were first against their children attending the Institute only to sing its praises a few years later, as they’ve turned their education into real modern well paid opportunities.