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THE AGRONOMIST


A docu-portrait of Jean Dominique, the magnetic Haitian journalist and activist who was assassinated in 2000, possibly by the command of a former colleague.


DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

"Demme met and began to film Dominique in exile, in the late 1980s, and continued shooting footage with the Haitian crusader over the years. The result is a 90-minute homage to the man and his cause that also serves, unfortunately, as an epitaph to his martyrdom, and to that of his nation…a valuable and deeply haunting portrait of a social activist who lived and died for the highest ideals." --Marc Cooper, LA Weekly

 

"… a superb new documentary by Jonathan Demme…Its hero, Jean Dominique, embodies the fragile, perpetual hope that Haiti, so long tormented by foreign meddlers and domestic dictators, might someday nurture a just and decent political order…The filmmaker met with his subjects many times, in Haiti and in the United States, from 1991 until Dominique's death, and the present-tense quality of the conversations gives ‘The Agronomist’ a roller-coaster intensity…Demme concludes the film with words and images that will at once rally the spirit and break the heart of anyone who believes in the values of democracy." --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"… a fiercely heartbreaking film about the assassinated Haitian activist Jean Dominique… After you see Dominique’s story, the present-day chaos and corruption in Haiti certainly come as no surprise; the miracle is that he stayed alive as long as he did. Free speech isn’t merely a shibboleth in ‘The Agronomist.’ As embodied by Dominique, it’s a fire-breathing force." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"When George W. Bush turned around that 500-plus-passenger boatload of fleeing Haitians in February, it was deja vu all over again -- as many would agree, it was another U.S. president denying sanctuary to a people whose country we've long helped turn into a blood-drenched hellhole…‘The Agronomist’ is a film guaranteed to promote righteous indignation, sadness and guilt -- as it makes the case that the intertwined history of the United States and Haiti is one of almost unutterable shame." --John Anderson, Newsday

"There are few current screen presences as engaging as the late Haitian activist and free-speech hero Jean Dominique. The subject of Jonathan Demme's documentary portrait, Dominique is irrepressibly theatrical—a wiry man with an emphatic delivery that underscores his career as a radio man. (His smile is so dazzling you can almost hear it go bling.)…Amazingly, ‘The Agronomist’ remains upbeat. The stirring ending has the resolute Montas rebroadcasting one of her husband's speeches." --J. Hobermann, The Village Voice

"Watching Demme's documentary is both a crash course in the nation's tumultuous past and a provocative visit with one of its most colorful citizens. Dominique was an expert at pushing people's emotional and ideological buttons, and Demme lets him flaunt his arrogant, sometimes irritating manner, as well as his intelligent ideas. The results are as revealing as they are energetic." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Drawing on interviews he shot with Dominique and his wife, Michele Montas, beginning in 1993 when they were in exile in New York, Demme paints a compelling portrait of an agriculturalist who became one of his country's most articulate and charismatic voices… ‘The Agronomist’ uses archival footage and music to tell a moving story that's all too common in the Third World." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"Demme's portrait of the slain journalist, which employs a lively score by Wyclef Jean, never quite coalesces, despite its compelling story…there is no resolution to the stories. Dominique's killers have not been brought to justice, and Haiti remains a country torn apart. Still, ‘The Agronomist’ is a powerful look at two tragedies -- the death of a courageous and inspirational man and the unfortunate land that he loved." Rob Lowman, The Los Angeles Daily News

"...inspiring yet heartbreaking...'The Agronomist' is an unusual documentary, made by an expert director who knows how to put a film together that is artistic as well as informative. It therefore packs even more punch than a fictional work might." --William Wolf, Wolf Entertainment Guide


"A perfect match of interviewer and subject, ‘The Agronomist’ is director Jonathan Demme’s informative and emotional video testimonial to the Haitian radio personality Jean Dominique…Ever the humanist, Demme uses the political power of cinema to resurrect Dominique and re-contextualize one of his happiest moments. As if in answer to Haiti’s continuing cycle of violence, Demme proposes through Dominique a new cycle of hope." --Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine