A review of “The Agronomist” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for grisly images

Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

 

 

Political activist/journalist Jean Dominique is the subject of this searing portrait of Haiti’s political upheavals of the last forty years.

From the coup d’ètat that toppled a President to the vicious maneuvers of the Ton Ton Macoute, the escape of dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier and the groundswell of the National Council of Government, Haiti has been to hell and back.

Founder of the controversial Radio Haiti Inter, Dominique had a vision of a democratic Haiti throughout times of turmoil and revolution. His passion and technological innovations virtually revolutionized radio communications in his ailing land.  A risk taker willing to smack it down against evil political forces, Dominique became the voice of a splintered nation.

The film is a diary of Haiti’s, and Dominique’s, turbulent history. Director Jonathan Demme, a human rights activist himself, has utilized original radio broadcasts, interviews with Dominique and his wife Michèle Montas, and startling news footage to create a picture of a dynamic character and the country he loved.

Forced into exile in New York City not once but twice, Dominique nonetheless worked tirelessly for his democratic ideals until he was brutally gunned down in front of the Radio Haiti studio on April 3, 2000.

Demme’s bare-bones style offers a keen sense of the struggles and frustrations facing the little West Indies Island.  An uncompromising glimpse into a life and a land waging a two-hundred year battle for peace.