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#2245: Jorgen Leth's Haiti films.

Special thanks to list-member Ingegerd Petersen for this list.
And, tremendous apologies from Corbett.  Ingegerd sent this to
me ages ago and I let it get shoved to the rear and finally
ignored.  I'm very sorry you folks didn't have this in hand
months ago.   The delay in posting in no way reflects on my
views of Jorgen Leth's films, of which I am most supportive and
appreciative.  Rather, it has to do with my inability to hand
text that is not in plain text format.  Getting it translated
to where my broswer can handle it requires extra work that I
often push aside.    Bob


Jorgen Leth's Haiti films

Danish film-maker Jorgen Leth has more than 35 films behind him and has 
received numerous international honours and awards. His oeuvre has been 
presented in retrospective programmes at the British Film Institute, 
London, at the American Film Institute, Washington, and in Rouen and Bombay. He 
is also a prolific writer, (eleven volumes of poetry and four non-fiction 
He is the recipient of a life-long grant from the Danish State and has 
lived in Haiti since 1991. His latest film, I'm Alive (1999), a 
documentary-portrait of a famous Danish Poet, ran three months in a 
theatre in Copenhagen and has  already been celebrated at international 
festivals. Leth's own Collected Poems 1962-2000 will be published in 
February. Leth has made four films in Haiti and will be finishing his 
fifth next year.


1983 - 93 minutes - 35 mm, colour - directed by Jorgen Leth- screenplay 
Jorgen Leth, Klaus Rifbjerg - cinematography Alexander Gruszynski - 
sound Jan Juhler - editor Kristian Levring - actors Henning Jensen, 
Hanne Uldal, Francois Latour, Aubelin Jolicoeur, Jocasta Maspuda, 
Roberto d'Aubuisson, Girard Risil, Hervi Denis, Al Seitz a.o. -narrator 
Joseph Benti - composer Fuzzy - producer Vibeke Windeloev- production 
HTM Films.

Haiti Express is shot entirely on location in El Salvador (the first 10 
minutes) and Haiti. Alex Hansen (Henning Jensen) is a foreign 
correspondent on an assignment in El Salvador during the civil war. He 
makes an interview with the infamous Colonel Roberto D'Aubuisson, but is 
in a burnt-out state of mind and goes to Haiti where he meets a 
mysterious Danish woman (Hanne Uldal), who disappears shortly 
thereafter.  He is uncessfully trying to set up an interview with Jean 
Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier while spiralling downwards in Port-au-Prince 
nightlife. Alex' moods are mirrored by the film's structure. Haiti 
Express does not tell a straightforward story, but presents 
the fictional elements within a documentary frame. The crisis of Alex is 
ironically commented upon by the narrator who questions the reporter's 
motivation. The film contains many interesting images from Haiti in the 
early eighties. The dimly lighted scenes from Port-au-Prince at night 
are full of atmosphere. Many scenes are beautifully composed 
mini-stories and Leth applies a smooth gliding camera style to 
his rather experimental story telling technique.

35 mm film prints (English version): The Danish Film Institute.


1986 - 82 minutes - 35 mm, colour - director Jorgen Leth -cinematography 
Dan Holmberg - screenplay Jorgen Leth - Sound Niels Arnt Torp - editor 
Camilla Skousen- narrator Jorgen Leth - production Leth & Uldal Productions.

Moments of Play is one of Leth's acclaimed international successes. It is 
a personal, poetical, caleidoscopic film-essay, reflecting the 
many-facetted picture of children and adults at play in different 
cultures around the world. Sponsored by the LEGO group, and filmed on 
location in Brazil, United States, The People's Republic of China, 
Indonesia, England, Spain, Denmark - and Haiti.

35 and 16 mm prints (English version): The Danish Film Institute, and 
Jorgen Leth. Video copies (English version): the LEGO Group, Jane 
Balfour Films, London, and Jorgen Leth. Prize-winner at a number of 
international film festivals.


1992 - 91 minutes - 35 mm, colour - director Jorgen Leth -cinematography 
Dan Holmberg - screenplay Jorgen Leth - sound Niels Arnt Torp - editor 
Camilla Skousen - actors Ebbe Traberg, Ambroise Thompson, Jean-Claude 
Dicquemare, Pio Lindegaard, Lunise Morse, Aubelin Jolicoeur, Yvrodie 
Jean--Baptiste, Mikel Berasaluce  - narrator Erik Moerk - music 
Nat King Cole, Robbie Robertson a.o. - producer Marianne Christensen - 
production Jorgen Leth Productions.

The dramatic events in Haiti, 1991  Lafontant 's aborted coup attempt, 
Aristide's first days as president, the military coup - blew away the 
planned semi-fictional structure of this film about Traberg arriving in 
Haiti to make a strange deal. Traberg became a story about 
Haiti in that bloody period of its recent history, a feature film which 
mixes reflection with reportage. Real life' s Ebbe Traberg is a legendary 
Danish writer, living in Spain, who became fascinated, like his friend 
Jorgen Leth, with the island-country on the other side of the ocean.

35 mm prints and video copies: The Danish Film Institute, and Jorgen Leth.


1996 - 85 min., 35 mm, colour - director Jorgen Leth -cinematography 
Tsmas Gislason, Dan Holmberg, Alexander Gruszsynski, Jorgen Leth - 
screenplay Jorgen Leth - editors Camilla Skousen, Jacob Thuesen - music 
Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson - producer Dino Raymond Hansen - production Sunset 

Jorgen Leth: I feel like hypnotized by life in Haiti. Every time I come 
back I have the feeling of a personal submersion under the surface into 
chaos. But a chaos that fascinates me with its mystery, its horrors, its 
sensuality, its beauty and its surreal scenes."  The films consists of 
footage from different periods 1982-84, 1991-95 and puts together 
contrasting elements: political violence, vodou, anecdotes and erotic 
scenes. Leth doesn't want to give a one-dimensional view of his beloved 
Haiti, but offers instead a subjective, even an idiosyncratic one. 
Controversial personalities such as Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, 
Franck Romain and Raoul Cidras are prominently represented in the film, 
while president Jean--Bertrand Aristide is receiving the invalids at the 
national palace and talks about reconciliation and justice. The film is 
edited in a rather innovative  way. Catalogue text from 
International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam: "Leth uses his camera 
to probe into the mixture of myth and reality that determines everyday 
life on Haiti. With a small crew he registers anecdotes, absurd, 
dramatic as well as wonderful scenes. The result is a personal 
documentary about a country that exerts a strong attraction on outsiders, 
precisely because of the surrealist impression it often leaves.'"

35 and 16 mm prints, and video copies: The Danish Film Institute, Jorgen 
Leth (Sunset Productions Inc). Winner of Golden Plaque as best documentary of 
the year 1996 at The Chicago International Film Festival, New York 
premiere at the Museum of Modern  Art.


Work-in-progress. Will contain footage shot during many years of 
observing the Haitian art scene, including interviews and other material 
with Philomi Obin (filmed 1982), Rigaud Benoit (1984), Jasmin Joseph 
(1984), Salnave Philippe Auguste (1984), Andri Pierre (1982, 1984, 1993, 
1999), Prosphre Pierre-Louis (1991), Livoy Exil (1999), Prifhte 
Duffaut (1999), Wilson Bigaud (1999), Antilhomme Richard (1991, 1999), 
Levoy Exil (1999) and many others. Post-production will start shortly. 
Planned release: summer 2000.
Estimated length: 55 minutes - 16 mm, colour - director Jorgen Leth - 
cinematography  Alexander Gruszsynski, Dan Holmberg, Teit Joergensen - 
screenplay Jorgen Leth - editor Camilla Skousen - production Sunset 
Productions Inc. and Bech Film, Copenhagen.

FROM HEART TO HAND (Fra hjertet til haanden)

1994 - 92 minutes - video, colour - director Tsmas Gislason
-cinematography Peter Bech - editor Jacob Thuesen -producer 
Thomas Heinesen - production Non Stop Productions, Copenhagen.

For once, Jorgen Leth is not behind the camera but in front of it as 
the main character. The poetic, reflective observer is now himself 
observed as he tells about his life, his art, his drive and his demons. 
In this prize-winning documentary by Tsmas Gislason we follow Jorgen 
Leth during his voluntary exile in Haiti, as a commentator on the Tour 
de France, shooting a film in Spain, travelling in the world with a 
suitcase as his home. The material shot in Haiti include scenes from 
vodou-ceremonies, the Hotel Oloffson, the dramatic events at the funeral 
of victims of the Jiremie ship disaster in the Port-au-Prince cathedral, 
Jacmel, carnival etc.

Video copies (English subtitles): The Danish Film Institute, Bech Films,