DocYard Spring 2021

A Radical Empathy: Three Films from Esery Mondesir

Expired May 1, 2021 4:00 AM
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3 films + livestream in package
Una Sola Sangre
“I have two homelands, but one blood,” says Silvia Galdes in Una Sola Sangre, the latest film by the Haitian-born, Toronto-based filmmaker Esery Mondesir. Silvia, along with her siblings Silverio and Estella, is a first-generation Haitian-Cuban, the daughter of Sylvain Galdes, one of an estimated 500.000 Haitians who migrated to Cuba for work in the early 20th century. Despite not seeing their father’s homeland until their sixth decades (and after the shooting of the film), the Galdes family and their social position in Cuba has long been marked by their Haitianness – an identity they and their children negotiate in various ways throughout Mondesir’s generous and intimate documentary. Through moments of work, rest, and celebration, the film produces a deceptively profound portrait of a family, a neighbourhood, and a nation.
Pariah, my brother, I follow you, show me the route to the springs
The holiday season is fast approaching in Tijuana, Mexico where Saül and his father-in-law, Mathieu are getting ready for a busy day at the street market selling recycled tennis shoes. In the darkness of Dawn, the deserted road to the Market swells up with memories of their migration journey. After a long trek from Haiti, Brazil and nine other South and Central-American countries, they have been here two years, waiting for a chance to claim asylum in the US. We too shall wait for the sunrise, haunted by the words of Davertige, he too, a passer-by on The Route to the springs hoping to quench the thirst for freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a simple human dream the Americans call theirs. Saul and Mathieu are not waiting; they build, they love, they live.
What Happens to a Dream Deferred?
It's New Year's Eve in Tijuana, Mexico. Wood and Colonel are busy making Soup Joumou to celebrate Haitian Independence Day with their friends at the "Trap House". As their cooking progresses, memories of the perilous journey that brought them to the US/Mexico border two years ago resurface. From Haiti to Brasil and through nine other South and Central-American countries, here they are, sandwiched between their dream of a musical career in the US and a US president who calls Haiti a shit hole and believes all Haitians have AIDS.
A Radical Empathy Live Q&A with Director Esery Mondesir and Curator Abby Sun!
Listen to DocYard Curator Abby Sun in conversation with A Radical Empathy director Esery Mondesir.
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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.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    25 minutes
  • Language
    French, Haitian Creole
  • Director
    Esery Mondesir
  • Cinematographer
    Esery Mondesir
  • Editor
    Esery Mondesir