FIAF and Partners Bring Haitian Culture to New York City in May

  • Posted on: 3 April 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with S.O.B.’S, PEN World Voices and The Maysles Institute will be holding a number of Haitian cultural events in New York City this May.  There will be musical performances by well known bands such as RAM, screenings of Haitian films, and discussions on different aspects of Haitian culture.  More information is below. 


The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York's premiere French cultural center, announced today the launch this May of the second edition of the World Nomads series celebrating transculturalism. Following the highly successful inaugural season, World Nomads will focus on Haiti this year, bringing some of the most exciting examples of Haitian culture and art to New York. Along with partners S.O.B.’S, PEN World Voices, and The Maysles Institute, FIAF will present a month-long celebration exploring the crossroads of culture and identity and providing a forum for dialogue and inspiration.


The small Caribbean island of Haiti is home to a rich and vibrant community of artists and writers, where influences and beliefs from all over the world have come together to create a cultural voice that is at once unique and universal. This May, World Nomads at FIAF will showcase outstanding Haitian music, cinema, literature, and visual arts that have come to inspire audiences and artists worldwide. Highlighting both acclaimed and up-and-coming artists, World Nomads will explore the diverse cultural landscape of Haiti through performances, talks, screenings, and an exclusive gallery exhibit.


“With the close connection of the French and Creole languages and 500,000 Haitian emigrés who now call the New York area their home, a focus on Haiti this year is a natural sequel to World Nomads’ first season,” says Lili Chopra, FIAF Vice President of Cultural Affairs. “This year’s ambitious program will bring together exceptional musicians, film-makers, writers and artists, to provide an exciting celebration of transculturalism and an engaging examination of Haitian culture and art.”


Some highlights of the FIAF series will include the pioneering “voodoo-rock” band RAM, the writings of the multi-talented Frankétienne, the revelatory filmmaking of directors Jonathan Demme and David Belle, and the works of some of Haiti’s brightest contemporary artists, including Wesner LaForest and Odilon Pierre, to name a few. World Nomads will also include a dedicated poster exhibit at the John and Francine Haskell Library and a course on Haitian literature given at the FIAF Language Center. Encompassing all FIAF cultural programming for the month and stretching between the Maysles Institute in Harlem and S.O.B.’S and the Bubble Lounge downtown, the expansive World Nomads program is set to captivate all of the senses.


Friday, May 1 at 8pm
The pioneering mizik rasin band, RAM, whose “voodoo rock n’ roots” sound has become the musical voice of a generation of Haitians, will take to the stage to kick-off World Nomads at FIAF. “The voice of Haiti”, RAM will electrify audiences with a 14 musician ensemble for this one-night-only concert, co-sponsored by S.O.B.’S.
Venue: FIAF, Florence Gould Hall
Admission: $15 FIAF Members; $20 Non-Members
Note: In Creole, English and French


After-Party and Performance @ S.O.B.’S
Featuring RAM and CaRiMi
Doors open at 11pm, Shows at Midnight and 2am
After the show at Florence Gould Hall, legendary venue S.O.B.’S will present more music and an all-out after- party featuring more of RAM and a performance by genre-defying, internationally acclaimed group CaRiMi.
Venue: S.O.B.’S
Admission: $25


Haitian Freedom Celebration
Featuring Barikad Crew, Haitian Fresh, and CaRiMi with special guest, Wyclef Jean
Monday, May 18 at 9pm*
In celebration of May 18, Freedom or Flag Day in Haiti, S.O.B.’S presents a star-studded line-up featuring the best of Haitian hip hop and rap. The multi-talented Barikad Crew, the driving beat of Haitian Fresh and the spirited CaRiMi trio will be joined by special guest Wyclef Jean for an unforgettable night of Haitian sounds and rhythms.
Venue: S.O.B.’S
Admission: $25
*Doors open at 7pm. Tickets not available through FIAF
Haiti Optimiste: A global acoustic and visual evening
Featuring Emily King, Michou, and a surprise guest Wednesday, May 27 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm)
Channeling the spirit of her idols, The Beatles, Radiohead, and Mary J. Blige, Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Emily King will be joined by the soulful, afro-beat diva Michou for a memorable evening of acoustic jams at the downtown champagne mecca, The Bubble Lounge.
Venue: The Bubble Lounge
Admission: $10 at the door including a Haitian cocktail – all proceeds to benefit HELP (Haitian Education and Leadership Program) and the Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only film school


Reading and Writing Multilingual Haiti
With Dany Laferrière and Madison Smartt Bell, moderated by Kaiama L. Glover
Saturday, May 2 at 1pm
Celebrated for his irreverent humor and innovative manipulations of the French language, Dany Laferrière is among Haitian literature’s most prominent contemporary voices. Madison Smartt Bell’s rich and elegant historical fiction has brought the tragedy and triumph of Haiti’s history to the world stage. These two exceptional authors join Kaiama L. Glover for a discussion of the particular challenges in writing about Haiti from other parts of the Americas.
Venue: FIAF, Le Skyroom
Admission: Free and open to the public
Note: In English and French with interpretation
Frankétienne: Haitian Identity
With Frankétienne
Saturday, May 2 at 3pm
In an exclusive World Nomads event, in partnership with PEN World Voices, renowned Haitian poet, novelist, dramatist, and painter Frankétienne will discuss his decision to stay in Haiti and how it influenced his work as an artist, placing him in a unique position from which to reflect on the question of Haitian identity. His radical poetics and unbridled linguistic experimentation represent the most extraordinary aspects of Haiti’s literature and culture. Having published more than 30 plays, poetry collections, and works of prose fiction, Frankétienne is widely heralded as one of the most important figures of modern Haitian literature.
Venue: FIAF, Le Skyroom
Admission: Free and open to the public
Note: In French with English interpretation


Krik? Krak!
Saturday, May 2 at 5pm
No literary series on Haiti would be complete without a celebration of Haiti’s vivid oral culture. Participants will engage in a session of krik-krak—a Haitian storytellers’ ritual of warming up their audiences by asking “Krik?” and taking the collective response “Krak!” as their cue to begin to tell stories and jokes. Join these renowned writers for this very special happening, where stories yet to be defined will take shape.
Venue: FIAF, Le Skyroom
Admission: Free and open to the public
Note: In English, French, and Creole
See for a complete list of PEN World Voices events on 


The Agronomist
(Jean Dominique l’Agronomiste)
May 5 at 12:30, 4 & 7pm
Directed by Jonathan Demme, 2004. Color. 90 min.
With Jean Dominique, Michèle Montas, Aboudja, Ronald Reagan.
Note: 7pm screening introduced by director Jonathan Demme and Michèle Montas + Q & A after the film.

The Man by the Shore
(L’homme sur les quais)
May 12 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Directed by Raoul Peck, 1993. Color. 105 min.
With Jennifer Zubar, Toto Bissainthe, Jean-Michel Martial, Patrick Rameau.

May 19 at 12:30 & 4pm
Directed by Rassoul Labuchin, 1981. B&W. 45 min.
Miss Body Plastik
May 19 at 7pm
Directed by Louis Ebby Angel, 2008. Color.28 min.
With Darline Mentor, Widlande Edmé, Bayard Jean Bernard, Alain Pierre
Note: 7pm screening presented by David Belle co-founder of Haiti’s international film festival (Jakmèl Film Festival) and founder of Haiti’s only film school, Cine Institute.


Mrs. Little Bones (Madame Ti Zo)
May 19 at 12:30, 4 & 7pm
Directed by David Belle, 2006. Color. 65 min.
With Madeleine Desrosiers
Note: 7pm screening presented by David Belle, co-founder of Haiti’s international film festival (Jakmèl Film Festival) and founder of Haiti’s only film school, Ciné Institute.


Haïti Chérie
May 26 at 12:30, & 4pm
Directed by Claudio Del Punta, 2008. Color. 104 min.
With Yeraini Cuevas, Valentin Valdez, Jean Marie Guerin, Juan Carlos Campos.
Note: World Premiere
The Gospel of the Creole Pig (L’évangile du cochon Créole)
May 26 at 7pm
Directed by Michelange Quay, 2004. Color. 19 min.
With Dominique Batraville, Georges Quay, Mireille Quay.
Note: 7pm screening presented by director Michelange Quay + Q & A after the screening.


Eat, For This is My Body (Mange, ceci est mon corps)
Directed by Michelange Quay, 2008. Color. 105 min.
With Sylvie Testud, Catherine Samie, Hans Dacosta Saint-Val.
Note: 7pm screening presented by director Michelange Quay + Q & A after the screening.

The Maysles Institute presents: Haitian Documentary Series
Sunday, May 3 & Thursdays, May 7–28 As part of the World Nomads Cinema series, the venerated Maysles Institute presents a collection of documentaries that explore the expanse of Haitian culture on the Caribbean island and among the American diaspora. The mysterious Vodou religion, political suppression, and Port-au-Prince street artists all exist with
startling contrast to one another, yet create a cohesive contemporary voice. This series will be shown at The Maysles Institute as a complement to FIAF CinémaTuesdays programming Venue: The Maysles Institute
Admission: $7 suggested donation


The Revelations of Madame Nerval (Les Illuminations de Madame Nerval)
Sunday May 3 at 7:00 pm
Directed by Charles Najman. 1999. 55 min.
Of Men and Gods (Des Hommes et Des Dieux)
Directed by Anne Lescot and Lawrence Magloire. 2002. 52 min.


Dreams of Democracy
Thursday, May 14 at 8pm
Directed by Jonathan Demme. 1988. 52 min.
Carnival Jakmèl
Directed by the students of the Ciné Institute with Jonathan Stack. 2009. In progress.
Ra-Ra, A Haitian Festival
Friday, May 15 at 8:00 pm
Directed by Gail Pellet. 1978. 18 min.
The Other Side of Water
Directed by Jeremy Robins & Magali Damas. 2008. 61 min.
Note: Screening to be followed by a performance and procession by the subject of the film, the band DJARARA!


Black Dawn
Saturday, May 16 (Family Programming Matinee) at 3 pm
Directed by Robin Lloyd. 1981. 16 min.
Haitian Eksperyans
Directed by David Belle. 1996. 25 min.

Atis-Rezistans: The Sculptors of Grand Rue
Thursday, May 21 at 7:30 pm
Directed by Leah Gordon. 2008. 35 min.
Directed by Jorgen Leth. 2002. 55 min.

Jonathan Demme Collection: Inspiration of Haitian Art
Thursday, May 7th – Saturday, June 13
Opening reception: Wednesday, May 6


In conjunction with the World Nomads series on Haiti, the FIAF Gallery presents a special exhibition of Haitian paintings curated by the parrain of this year’s festival: Academy Award-winning American film director Jonathan Demme. Known for his films Silence of the Lambs and the recent Rachel Getting Married, Demme will curate the exhibition from his own personal collection of self-taught Haitian artists. A long-time Haitian art enthusiast and avid collector, Demme has been a fervent advocate for Haiti through the years, embracing the nation both through his films and his collaborations with Haitian artists, such as writer


Edwige Danticat and musicians RAM and Wyclef Jean. The FIAF exhibition will showcase artists Wesner LaForest, Peterson Laurent, Odilon Pierre, Wilson Bigaud, Sénèque Obin, Préfète Duffaut, Edgar Jean-Baptiste, André Normil, Maurice Altieri, and St. Pierre Toussaint. Though each of these artists has a unique style of painting, their topic—the rich cultural landscape of daily life in Haiti —unites them, presenting a detailed and poignant portrait of their country.


World Nomads is generously supported by American Airlines, the official airline of FIAF, and CulturesFrance. FIAF is proud to acknowledge season partners American Airlines, The Florence Gould Foundation, The Herbert J. Seligmann Trust, and the New York State Council of the Arts.


FIAF, a not-for-profit organization created in 1898 by American Francophiles, is one of the largest and most respected centers of French-American activities in the United States, widely known as the home of New York’s foremost French language school, the leading all-French library in the country, and New York’s only performing arts center dedicated to French and Francophone culture. FIAF is dedicated to encouraging interaction and better understanding between French-speaking and American communities by creating programs in the arts and education that promote and enhance knowledge of French and Francophone culture.


As a cultural center, FIAF makes an important contribution to the broad spectrum of arts events that nourish and enrich New York City’s diverse audiences. With programming that focuses on the achievements of both France and French-speaking communities around the world, FIAF serves those who look to it for leadership, acumen, and guidance in the exploration and presentation of the arts of Francophone cultures. FIAF's year-round arts programming features a full season of film screenings, literary events, live performances of music, theater, and dance, as well as series and workshops developed for students and children.

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