Country: USA / Haiti
The Agronomist is a film tribute to an extraordinary man: a journalist, a radio personality, and an activist for human rights. The Agronomist is also a tribute to Jean Dominique’s tireless struggle against injustice and oppression endured by the vivacious Haitian people. Jean Dominique began Radio Haiti in 1968; this was a major political intervention. One of the features that distinguished Radio Haiti was the programming in Creole, the language of the people, not only in French, the language of the elite. The fates of Jean Dominique and of his nation are revealed in this stunning documentary.
Director, screenwriter and producer Jonathan Demme, has 18 films to his credit, including The truth about Charlie, Beloved, The silence of the lambs (for which he won an Academy Award), Philadelphia, Married To the Mob, Something Wild, Swimming to Cambodia and Melvin and Howard, for which he was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics. Additional producing credits include Devil In a Blue Dress, Household Saints, That Thing You Do!, Ulee’s Gold and Adaptation. Demme’s films have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards. The Silence Of the Lambs received five Academy Awards in 1991 – for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay Adaptation. His films have won screenplay Oscars twice, Melvin and Howard (Best Original Screenplay, 1980) and The Silence of the Lambs (Best Screenplay Adaptation, 1991), and two of the Best Actor awards of the 1990s went to Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993). A strong advocate of human rights, Demme has produced and directed a number of documentaries about the Haitian plight, such as the acclaimed Haiti: Dreams of Democracy, Haiti: Killing the Dream, Tonbe Leve, and Courage and Pain. In addition, he directed the documentary Cousin Bobby, and produced the Academy Award-nominated biography Mandela as well as Into the Rope!, The Uttmost and One Foot on a Banana Peel, The Other Foot in the Grave. He is also producing Beah: a Black Woman Speaks a documentary on the life of Beah Richards with Lisa Gay Hamilton, who is making her directorial debut with this project. He recently completed the film in this festival, The Agronomist, a documentary on the Haitian radio journalist Jean Dominique, who was assassinated in April 2000 on the steps of his radio station. Demme’s creative talents ha ve also lured him into the musical domain. He directed the Robyn Hitchcock concert film Storefront Hitchcock as well as the award-winning Talking Heads concert film Stop making sense. He has directed Artists United Against Apartheid’s Sun city, Neil Young’s The complex sessions, and music videos for Bruce Springsteen, Les Frères Parent, The Neville Brothers, KRS-One, and the Feelies, among others. He also produced Konbit, an album of Haitian music.