“Ayiti Mon Amour”

The Toronto International Film Festival announced this week an exciting and diverse selection of new works from international filmmakers, as a part of the Contemporary World Cinema program. Offering a variety of perspectives from around the world, this year’s lineup draws from Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Haiti, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, and more.

Making its international premiere as part of the festival’s Contemporary World Cinema program is Haitian-American filmmaker Guetty Felin’s “Ayiti Mon Amour.”

In the emerging post-earthquake cinema of Haiti, no voice shines as brightly as Felin whose “Ayiti Mon Amour” invokes Haiti’s past and present with stories that intertwine and collide. Felin is telling the stories of poignant characters in a poetic and visually stunning array, minus a narrative of sorrow and pity that permeates similar dramas.

In Kabic, a small southeast fishing village outside of Jacmel, we meet four characters trying to make sense out of their existence. There is Orphee, bullied for being different and grieving the loss of his father, who one day discovers he has a special electrifying power gained from the sea – but with great power comes great responsibility; the love story of the old fisherman Juares, caring for his ailing wife Odessa, who has come down with a disease only the sea can cure; the beautiful & mysterious Ama, the main character of an unfinished novel being written by an uninspired writer, who becomes weary and decides to leave the story to live a life of her own.  And then, there are the ‘rags,’ the empty clothing, which houses the underwater-animated spirits of the dead.

writer-director Guetty Felin
writer-director Guetty Felin

A magical neorealist tale, “”Ayiti Mon Amour” is a love poem to my native land; a place that I ache for, that haunts me, that frightens and yet angers me, a place that I am fiercely and madly in love with,” says Felin. For the director, “Ayiti” was born out of her desire “to make something out of nothing…the desire to no longer be waiting for approval, for funders, for bankable actors.”  She regards her film as inspired by Italian neo-realism director Roberto Rossellini’s “Paisan” (1946), and all about “salvaging love after disaster.”

The film stars Anisia Uzeyman (Alain Gomis’ “Tey” and director of upcoming narrative “Dreamstates”), Joakim Ethan Cohen, Jaures Andris, Pascale Faublas, James Noel, Judith Jeudi.

Previously presented in conjunction with Haiti Cultural Exchange, BAMcinématek, and the Brooklyn Cinema Collective, “Ayiti Mon Amour” screened 2 months ago at BAM Rose Cinemas. It is now set to make its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival which runs from September 8 to 18, 2016.

Iconoclastic film director Mira Nair (“The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala”) serves as the executive producer of “Ayiti Mon Amour.”

Watch a trailer for the film below: