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A Radical Empathy: Three Films from Esery Mondesir

A still from What Happens to a Dream Deferred? from A Radical Empathy: Three Films by Esery Mondesir

Esery Mondesir’s three films, Una Sola Sangre, Pariah, my brother, I follow you show me the route to the springs, and What Happens to a Dream Deferred intimately center on Haitian migrants or members of the diaspora who have made the Route from Haiti through South and Central America for various reasons – dreams of music careers in the US or better work for themselves and their families. Mondesir’s films follow with them as they contend with the restrictions put on them by the regulations assigned to borders, but they build lives, love, celebrate, and maintain their Haitian identity. (KM)

Available Online: Friday, April 23rd – Thursday, April 29th
Director: Esery Mondesir
Film Details: 2020, 80 minutes, color, stereo, Haitian Creole and Spanish with English subtitles

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If you missed the live Q&A with Esery, you can watch it here on our YouTube channel! DocYard filmmaker Q&As are always on our YouTube channel Q&A for later viewing!

Official Selection of the 2020 Third Horizon Film Festival and Open City Documentary Festival.

About A Radical Empathy: Three Films from Esery Mondesir:

These three films form a collection examining the contours of the Haitian diaspora, made in collaboration with its subjects and with a firm command of filmmaker Esery Mondesir’s own speaking position as a Port-au-Prince-born, Toronto-based member of this same diaspora. The first, Una Sola Sangre (2018), Mondesir’s thesis film for York’s MFA program, is the most recognizable as a gregarious and warm portrait of a family in Cuba. The next two films follow the route of South and Central American migrants to desired North American destinations to Mexico, where the subjects of Pariah, my brother, I follow you, show me the route to the springs (2020) and What Happens to a Dream Deferred? (2020) wait for a chance to enter the US.

The myriad of ways Mondesir contends with migration are visible even in the film grain—created by transferring the footage (shot on the formerly ubiquitous Canon 5D) to 35mm and then re-digitizing for exhibition. Whether a Vodou ceremony, a New Year’s Eve cookout, or the daily routines of a father-son pair of street vendors, Mondesir’s camera is patient, intimate, and revealing of his own relationship with the families as someone who has made it even further north but still shares potent cultural touchstones and experiences. (AS)

“If “to speak about” and “to speak nearby” reflect a binary of representational modes, Mondesir complicates that binary with a strategy in which he can be said “to speak along with” his protagonists. It’s a process that visibly and beautifully develops over the arc of the films. ” – Jonathan Ali, Third Horizon

The image is a portrait of filmmaker Esery Mondesir. He is a Haitian-Canadian man wearing a blue shirt with red, orange, and green print.

Esery Mondesir Select Filmography
What Happens to a Dream Deferred? (2020)
Pariah, my brother, I follow you, show me the route to the springs (2020)
Una Sola Sangre (2018)