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The Agronomist (Sous-titres français) [Import]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Dominique, Aboudja, Ronald Reagan
  • Directors: Jonathan Demme
  • Producers: Bevin McNamara, Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Lizi Gelber, Edwidge Danticat
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • Release Date: June 7 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007XBLK8

Product Description

The life of Haitian radio journalist and human rights activist, Jean Dominique, told through historical footage of Haiti; interviews with Dominique and his wife, Michele Montas; and footage shot before his assassination in April 2000.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Emersberger on Sept. 4 2005
Format: DVD
The film passes quickly over the period of democratic rule in Haiti after 1994 implying that little changed and that Lavalas (Aristide's party) was mainly to blame for that.
A film that took an honest, detailed look at why more was not achieved under democratic rule would have been valuable. It would have prompted people in the US, Canada and France to hold their governments accountable for their destructive role in Haiti today. The US and it allies have blown Aristide's crimes out of proportion to those of his opponents. This tactic has provided them with propaganda cover since 2004 when they returned Haiti's ultra reactionary elite to power.
The film tells us that "The May [2000] elections will prove to be so deeply flawed by voting irregularities, they will haunt the Lavalas government for years to come."
The elections were not deeply flawed. The OAS argued that several senators should not have won their seats in the first round. The OAS did not question the scale of the Lavalas victory. The "flaws" were a pretext for the US and its allies to enforce economic sanctions.
No economic sanctions are in place against the unelected regime that rules Haiti today. It abuses human rights to an extent that dwarfs anything that took place under Lavalas, but is completely backed by the "international community". A better film would have put us in a better position understand why that is so, and to put a stop to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 16 2007
Format: DVD
This is one of the most inspiring documentaries I've ever seen coming from my country. Jean Dominique's unparalleled quest for freedom really made my day and deepened my enormous respect for such idealists. Jonathan Demme creates a film that is no less absorbing and considerably more powerful. The film focuses on Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio station owner, journalist, and tireless human rights activist. Dominique was born to the thin upper crust of Haiti but turned his back on that class to advocate for the poor and landless. Exiled twice to America (in 1980 and 1991), he returned to Haiti both times to press for democracy and land reform. He was assassinated in April 2000, a deep loss for the Haitian people and the world.

The film stitches together interviews Demme did with Jean Dominique over several years. Even from that grainy footage, it is apparent how charismatic Dominique was. His excitement is infectious; when he opens wide his eyes and smiles, we can't help but smile with him. At various stages, he talks about the "risky business" of operating a free radio station in a dictatorship, and we're inspired to undertake our own risky business in search of freedom. What's particularly impressive (and appealing) about Dominique is his indefatigable optimism. But when he talks about the CIA's role in his country, we're reminded of why giving that institution too much power (even in this age of terrorism) might not be such a good thing. His invitation to join his struggle along with his honesty and strength could not be bent. Only bullets could (and did) stop him.

Another extremely touching aspect of his story is the level of bonding they had with his wife.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
inspiring film about an inspirational man June 19 2005
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Jonathan Demme's "The Agronomist" is a documentary about Jean Dominique, the Haitian civil rights leader and radio journalist who was gunned down by unknown assassins on April 3, 2000. A passionate believer in a free and open press, Dominique founded Radio Haiti in the early 1960's and became know as the "voice of the people" for over four decades of that nation's turbulent, strife-torn history. Through a succession of coups and counter-coups that seemed to forever rock the country, Dominique remained committed to securing freedom for the citizens of his beloved island nation, even if that meant having to do so as a frequent political exile living in the United States. That his own life ended tragically - as is so often the case when brave individuals step out to try to make the world a better place - is of less importance than that people of goodwill pick up the banner and carry forth his message of social justice and equality for all people. Demme has done just that by putting together this inspiring and thought provoking documentary.

In constructing his film, Demme has chosen to rely primarily on the many interviews Dominique gave over the course of his lifetime. Thus, even though Dominique is dead, we are able to hear his story in his own words, a distinct advantage for those of us who knew little or nothing about the man and what he accomplished prior to our seeing this movie. We learn firsthand of all the dreams and fears, hopes and disappointments that came to define this one individual who truly made a difference in his world. In addition to these interviews, Demme also provides insights from Dominique's supportive wife and family as well as from some of the common folk in Haiti who were inspired by Dominique's vision.

As the movie unfolds, Demme provides us with a well-delineated history of Haiti in the last half century, showing us the political turmoil and human suffering that have, sadly, come to define life in that benighted country. This includes the installation and overthrow of both Duvalier regimes ("Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc"), the election then overthrow of Aristide by the forces of Cedras, then the return to power of Aristide at the hands of an international force led by the United States. The saddest part of the movie comes near the end with the realization that, even with a democratically elected government in place, life has not become appreciably better for the average Haitian, for the violence, suppression and government corruption seem as intense today as at any time in Haiti's past.

Still, despite these many setbacks, Dominique's vision of a world where every person is free to speak his mind without fear continues to flourish in the hearts of men and women everywhere. This film is a tribute to that spirit.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Voice Of A People (Review Of Film, Not DVD) June 8 2005
By Todd Steven Burroughs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Radio, when used correctly, can get you killed.

It's the most powerful, most personal medium. Nothing else on planet Earth can reach more oppressed people-the poorest, the illiterate and semi-illiterate-with the same information at one time. It explains and reflects issues, events, and people. It provides company as well as context. At its best, its mixture and manipulation of supplied sound nourishes the spirit and offers hope for a better tomorrow and, perhaps, even eventual liberation.

So Jean Leopold Dominique, a member of Haiti's light-skinned mulatto elite, was tuned in to this power. He purchased a radio station. In the 1970s, he turned himself onto the potential of expanding democracy through a free medium. ("Radio, then," says Dominique, "was not a news medium. It was entertainment.") He found freedom through his frequency. He committed class suicide using his (broadcast) voice to rally for peasant power. His reward: a violent death after being twice exiled from his homeland.

Jonathan Demme, the filmmaker behind "The Silence Of The Lambs" and "Philadelphia," was, of course, unaware that Dominique was going to be assassinated in April 2000, outside of Radio Haiti's studios; Demme had begun interviewing Dominique in 1986 for a documentary on the beleaguered island. They hit it off. So, on and off, the duo's filmed talks continued until 1999.

Those interviews form the spine of "The Agronomist," a tribute to Dominique's life, his wife, and Haiti's potential and constant strife. (The title comes from the profession he abandoned once broadcasting took hold.) Dominique's widow, Michele Montas, co-owner of Radio Haiti, assists Demme in telling the story of her husband's powerful existence as a broadcaster and a grassroots political activist.

This film chronicles the constant battle for free speech in a nation of U.S.-supported dictators and, subsequently, democratically elected presidents who allowed others to use dictator tactics on their behalf. ("It's 7 a.m.," Dominique broadcasts one morning in the 1990s. "They try everything-to gnaw at us; to bury us; to electrocute us; to drown us; to drain us; it's been going on for more than 50 years. Is there a reason for it to stop? Yes-one: Things much change in Haiti.") The same politically inspired censorship that Dominique experienced when he formed a film club in the 1960s dogged him throughout his career at Radio Haiti. He said he did two things that caught too many angry, oppositional ears: broadcasting in Kreyol (Creole) and providing "in-for-ma-tion"-political commentary and reporting. "Risky business," Dominique told Demme more than once. Later on in the film, he says directly but not arrogantly: "I know I am attacked because I'm doing my job the way it should be done."

At first glance, Dominique doesn't look like a national hero. Pipe ever prominent, physically slight but not frail, he reminded this reviewer of a kind of mulatto Jacques Cousteau. Then he talks, and the energy in his voice takes over. He animates his words with almost comical expressions and with eyes that, when widened to make a point, look ready to pop out of his head. His pronunciation exposes his values ("coming TO-GETHER, doing things TO-GETHER"). The fact that he wears his heart, Haiti, on his sleeve is as visible as his wide, big-tooth, grin. His literal smelling of trouble is comical.

Some of Haiti's best are among those contributing to the story. Wyclef Jean and Jerry "Wonder" Duplessis expertly handle the score, and Edwidge Danticat, the great author, is one of the film's associate producers.

Victory seems illusionary, particularly viewing "The Agronomist" in the context of today's headlines. Radio Haiti is no more. As of June 2005, the men charged with his murder have either been killed in jail or escaped when Aristide was forced to pack his bags during last year's coup. The killing's masterminds are still unknown, and evidence has been "lost." Surviving an attempt on her life in Haiti after her husband's death, Montas now lives and works in America. Nevertheless, the film ends on a triumphal note. A correct choice, since, according to Jean Dominique: "You cannot kill truth; you cannot kill justice; you cannot kill what we are fighting for."
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Worth seeing! Jan. 18 2007
By MINEISAWEAPON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Jean Dominique contributed a lot to our country's history and its view of the press. Though an obvious ulterior agenda motivated this documentary it nontheless told the story of a very admired and possible leader of Haiti if were ever interested. I just wished it pushed further into rumored "lavalas" involvement in this man's death...maybe that's just not important. It's just sad that only half of this story was told...SEE IT SO YOU CAN JUDGE FOR YOURSELF.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Death was not a defeat for this man Aug. 13 2007
By Jenny J.J.I. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This is one of the most inspiring documentaries I've ever seen coming from my country. Jean Dominique's unparalleled quest for freedom really made my day and deepened my enormous respect for such idealists. Jonathan Demme creates a film that is no less absorbing and considerably more powerful. The film focuses on Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio station owner, journalist, and tireless human rights activist. Dominique was born to the thin upper crust of Haiti but turned his back on that class to advocate for the poor and landless. Exiled twice to America (in 1980 and 1991), he returned to Haiti both times to press for democracy and land reform. He was assassinated in April 2000, a deep loss for the Haitian people and the world.

The film stitches together interviews Demme did with Jean Dominique over several years. Even from that grainy footage, it is apparent how charismatic Dominique was. His excitement is infectious; when he opens wide his eyes and smiles, we can't help but smile with him. At various stages, he talks about the "risky business" of operating a free radio station in a dictatorship, and we're inspired to undertake our own risky business in search of freedom. What's particularly impressive (and appealing) about Dominique is his indefatigable optimism. But when he talks about the CIA's role in his country, we're reminded of why giving that institution too much power (even in this age of terrorism) might not be such a good thing. His invitation to join his struggle along with his honesty and strength could not be bent. Only bullets could (and did) stop him.

Another extremely touching aspect of his story is the level of bonding they had with his wife. It is such a rarity and such a wonderful thing to happen, that you cannot but feel happy that these two people have met and enjoyed their life together.

"The Agronomist" is far from a perfect film. Demme, who has directed such movies as "Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia," skips over important events and large blocks of time. Those not intimately familiar with Haiti's recent past may find it difficult to keep up. There is also a lack of context at certain points: what role have the various militias played? how has President Aristide affected the country and how has power changed him? By focusing so completely on the charismatic figure of Dominique, the documentary sometimes loses its way.

Still, this is a rare glimpse into a country that's again in the news. As Dominique himself states, "Cinema is a window on to the world...If you see a film correctly, the grammar of the film is a political act."

***Haiti remains the hemisphere's poorest nation, multiply burdened by unforgiving debt as well as increasing inability even to structure or even imagine another, more hopeful future. How sad Dominique would be to see what has happened in the seven years since his murder. And yet, how fiercely and relentlessly he would continue to fight for that hope. Indeed, how fierce and beautiful he remains in this film, a call for resistance against injustices both general and devastatingly specific.****
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Political Passion + Remarkable Bravery Jan. 24 2007
By Daniel B. Clendenin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
"The truth," recalls Jean Dominique (1930-2000) quoting Shakespeare, "will always make the devil's face blush." For forty years Dominique was Haiti's most eloquent and outspoken political and human rights activist. Whether it was Papa Doc Duvalier, his son Baby Doc, Raoul Cedras, Jean Bertrand Aristide, Preval, the provisional puppet governments supported by America and run by the military, or the hated Macoutes thug-militia, Dominique spoke unvarnished truth and justice to power. He gave voice to the poorest of the poor in general and peasants in particular. When he was assassinated April 3, 2000 at the age of 70, he requested that his wife and the peasants together pour his ashes into the river. By training Dominique was an agronomist, but he became a national hero by force of his unflinching bravery, charming eloquence, and political passion. Late in the documentary he describes himself as always having had "an unquenchable faith as a militant for true change." With his journalist wife Michele Montas, he owned and operated Haiti's oldest and only free radio station, Radio Haiti, despite repeated episodes of harassment, torture, jail, and over six years of exile in Manhattan. Broadcasts were in native Creole rather than colonial French, connecting Dominique viscerally to the millions of powerless peasants. In addition, he produced Haiti's first film in Haiti by a Haitian, sensing that when you watch closely, you understand how a film becomes a political act. In 1965, Papa Doc's authorities permanently closed Haiti's first film club that he had started. Written and directed by Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), who interviewed Dominique over a period of ten years, this documentary demonstrates how some times human history is driven from "the bottom up" rather than the "top down." In English and Creole (with English subtitles).

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