The Agronomist
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Hollywood auteur and periodic documentarian Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, the Talking Heads doc Stop Making Sense) tells the story of Jean Dominique, a Haitian journalist and human rights activist who got his start working on farms in the Caribbean nation. Dominique and his wife Michaele Montas are compelling in every interview, of which there are a number, stretching over decades of political and social turmoil in Haiti that forced them both into exile more than once. In the 90-minute running time many historical details seem absent or glossed over, and the picture has a rough, unfinished quality. What is clear from it, even for those who know little about the country, is Dominique’s Radio Haiti was an undeniable force for justice while the country was being diddled by dictators, a rich oligarchy and/or powerful external interests. As an accurate telling of Haiti’s upheavals since the ’60s, the film may miss a few details, but as an out-loud statement of how democracy requires a free press, The Agronomist rocks.
—Carsten Knox

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