Raoul Peck and Toussaint L'Ouverture, a Film-Festival Favorite

Toussaint L'Ouverture, modern Haiti's liberator, joined the slave revolt on the island--known then as Saint Domingue--in 1788. A freed slave, who had acquired a fortune, he fought alongside Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti's first president.


Produced by Raoul Peck, the "Toussaint L'Ouverture" film project languished for several years in Hollywood. It finally received the needed funding from Hollywood Unites for Haiti Foundation and was green-lighted. The two-part, three-hour film previewed at Cuba Cinemathique in April 2012. Prior to the screening, the French production was broadcast on French television, where it drew an audience of 3 million.

On the strength of positive reviews, the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti to Cuba and Traveling Caribbean Film submitted it to international film festivals. "Toussaint L'Ouverture" was nominated in several categories in Montréal, Monte Carlos, and Washington, winning The Black Reel Award for Outstanding Foreign Film. It won Best Actor and the Audience Award at the Pan American Film and Arts Festival, and a Best Actor award at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. It also captured Best Diaspora Feature at the Africa Movie Academy Awards.

Jimmy Jean-Louis, the strikingly handsome Haitian actor, played Toussaint L'Ouverture as if his career depended on it. Interviewed by an online publication, Jean-Louis was asked if he felt any qualms portraying L'Ouverture. He characterized the experience as one of great anticipation, accompanied by acting nerves and rising to critic and audience expectation. He summed up by saying, ". . . you're playing the man who liberated the first black republic. That itself speaks loudly."

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