“Stateless upend(s) typical narratives about the triumph of the human spirit and show(s) us the complexities at play.” – The New York Times
July 27, 2021 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Opening August 20 in Montreal, acclaimed Haitian-Quebec filmmaker Michèle Stephenson’s Hispaniola Productions/National Film Board of Canada (NFB) co-production Stateless reveals the racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic, through the grassroots campaign of young attorney Rosa Iris as she challenges electoral corruption and fights to protect the right to citizenship for all people.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs and the Best Feature Documentary Award at Philadelphia’s BlackStar Film Festival, nominated for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Documentary, and an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, Stateless will be presented at the Cinéma du Parc (in English) and the Cinéma du Musée (in French), followed two weeks later by its online national theatrical debut, starting September 3 at Online Cinema.
For the August 20 premiere, Cinéma du Parc will screen a pre-recorded Q&A in English, moderated by Julie Barbeau with Michèle Stephenson, while Cinéma du Musée will present a live panel discussion in French, moderated by Barbeau with panelists Frantz Voltaire and Jean Jean.
The NFB is pleased to co-present this theatrical engagement of Stateless with the Montreal Black Film Festival.
About the film
In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-Black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, when the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary, Stateless, traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests.
Filmed with a chiaroscuro effect and richly imbued with elements of magical realism, Stateless combines gritty hidden-camera footage with the legend of a young woman fleeing brutal violence to flip the narrative axis, revealing the depths of institutionalized oppression.
More critical acclaim
“Featuring some gripping verité sequences and truly memorable characters, Stateless crafts a bold narrative of its own by giving voice to those who help bring the truth to light.” – POV Magazine “One of the year’s best films… A fascinating, often infuriating work of non-fiction, Stateless is a richly textured piece of filmic revolution.” – CriterionCast
“A compelling and beautifully shot story.” – Film Threat“A really quite remarkable work that is eye-opening for both its story as well as its rich visuals.”
– The Film Experience
About Michèle Stephenson
Born in Haiti, Michèle Stephenson fled the Duvalier dictatorship with her family and arrived in Quebec when she was eight years old. Raised in the Eastern Townships, she studied political science at McGill University and received her master’s in international affairs at Carleton University. As a co-founding member of the Rada Studio, Stephenson draws from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human-rights attorney to tell provocative stories in a variety of media that speak to personal and systemic liberation. Her work has appeared on numerous broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime and MTV. Stephenson’s film credits include the documentaries Faces of Change, Slaying Goliath and the multi-award-winning American Promise. Her honours include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for her book Promises Kept, co-written with Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard. Stephenson, Brewster and Yasmin Elayat recently received the Best Immersive Narrative Competition Award at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival for their VR production The Changing Same: Episode 1 – The Dilemma.
Stateless is produced by Jennifer Holness and Michèle Stephenson (Hispaniola Productions) and Lea Marin (NFB), and executive produced by Anita Lee (NFB), Joe Brewster (Rada Studio) and Sudz Sutherland (Hungry Eyes Media).
Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/stateless
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French version here | Version française ici.