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Michèle Stephenson
2020 | 95 min 30 s
Original version in Spanish and Haitian Creole with English subtitles

Selections and Awards

  • Best Feature Documentary AwardBlackStar Film Festival, Philadelphia, USA (2020)

  • Special Jury Prize - Canadian FeatureHot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Toronto, Canada (2020)

  • Best Feature Film Audience Award Boston Latino International Film Festival, USA (2020)

  • Official Selection (World Premiere) Tribeca Film Festival, New York, USA (2020)

  • Official Selection DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada (2020)

  • Official SelectionTrinidad and Tobago Film Festival (2020)

  • Official SelectionRencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), Montreal, Canada (2020)

  • Official SelectionChicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF), Chicago, USA (2021)

  • Official Selection NorthWestFest, Edmonton, Canada (2021)

  • Official Selection NorthWestFest, Edmonton, Canada (2021)

  • Nominee - Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary Canadian Screen Awards (2021)


About the film

Director’s Statement


Trailer - 35 s

Clip 1 - Moraime

Clip 2 - Gladys and the national mouvement group

Clip 3 - Rosa runs for Congress


Image from Film
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Young boys run through a Dominican sugar cane field.
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Rosa Iris meets with two young women.
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A woman stares into the endless sugar cane fields.
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Young Dominican boy
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Juan Teofilo Murat, Rosa's cousin
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Photo : © Image from Film
Rosa Iris doing community work
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Rosa Iris with Juan Teofilo Murat
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Rosa Iris on the Campaign trail
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People crossing a bridge at the Frontier between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
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Photo : © Image from Film
People crossing river at the Frontier between Haiti and the Dominican Republic


Michèle Stephenson
Writer, Director, and Producer
Photo : Ayana Enomoto Hurst

Michèle Stephenson

As co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, filmmaker, artist, and author Michèle 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. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys, including Best Documentary and Outstanding Coverage of a Current News Story. The film also won the Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Stephenson was recently awarded the Creative Capital Fellowship and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, as well as the inaugural Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She is also a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her current feature-documentary work in progress is supported by the National Film Board of Canada and the Sundance Documentary Fund. Her community-engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society and a Revere Award nomination from the Association of American Publishers, and she is a fellow of the Skoll Stories of Change initiative. Her recent book, Promises Kept, written with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Lea Marin
Producer (NFB)
Photo : NFB

Lea Marin

Lea Marin is an award-winning Toronto-based producer with more than 18 years’ experience. A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Producers’ Lab, Lea joined the National Film Board of Canada as a producer in 2006.

Her most recent film credits include Astra Taylor’s What Is Democracy?, which premiered at TIFF in 2018, and Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses, which won the  Best Canadian Feature Award at Hot Docs 2017. Other credits include Chelsea McMullan’s My Prairie Home and The Portrait, directed by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis.

Lea is currently in production on Throat, a co-collaboration between Chelsea McMullan and artist/activist Tanya Tagaq.

Jennifer Holness
Producer (Hispaniola Productions)
Photo : Hispaniola Productions

Jennifer Holness

Jennifer Holness is an award‐winning writer and producer of scripted and factual films and television productions. Her feature-film producing credits include Home Again, with co-writer and director Sudz Sutherland. The film stars Tatyana Ali, Lyriq Bent and CCH Pounder and won the prestigious PAFF–BAFTA Festival Choice Award. Home Again was also nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards and received a DGC nod for Best Directing. Jennifer also produced and co-wrote the feature Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, which won nine festival awards, including Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was nominated for a trifecta of Genies: Best Feature, Best Writing, and Best Directing.

She is currently developing several feature projects, including the German-Canadian co-production Riptide, and Operation Red Dog, with Canadian Screen Award‐winning director Sudz Sutherland. On the TV side, Jennifer is in development with CBC on the comedy series #relationship goals and the drama series The Wild. She also co‐created the TV drama series Shoot the Messenger, about cops and journalists, for CBC. She co‐wrote and produced the two‐part CBC miniseries Guns, starring Elisha Cuthbert and Colm Feore, which won five Canadian Screen Awards, including a shared Best Writing award for Jennifer. She also co-created, wrote, and produced a 13-part comedy series for Vision TV, She’s the Mayor, which was sold to BBC worldwide.

Jennifer is directing her second documentary, the feature Subjects of Desire, about cultural appropriation and the black-female image, with TVO Canada. She is the executive producer of the feature doc Black Zombie, currently in production with CBC’s Doc Channel. She has also produced numerous documentaries, including Badge of Pride (CBC and PBS); Brick by Brick (Omni); Yin Yin/Jade Love (TVO); Dolores: The Art of Modeling (Bravo!); and Speakers for the Dead (CBC/NFB), which she co‐directed. She is also working on several digital projects, including adapting her award-winning digital app The Music Biz into an animated series called Monstah Music Biz.

Jennifer has been a member of several boards, including Women in View, the Regent Park Film Festival, Innoversity Creative Summit and CMPA’s Prime Time. When she’s not working, she spends her downtime keeping up with her three spectacular girls.

Joe Brewster
Executive Producer (Rada Film Group)

Joe Brewster

Producer and director Joe Brewster is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who uses his psychological training as the foundation in approaching the intimate stories he tackles as an artist and filmmaker. Brewster has created stories using installation, narrative, documentary and print mediums that have garnered support from critics and audiences internationally. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, the MacArthur Foundation and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Brewster is a Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee. His recent documentary film American Promise was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African-American Film Critics Association Award. Brewster’s outreach accomplishments include a Revere Award and the 2013 NAACP Image Award for the bestselling companion book Promises Kept, and a BritDoc Prize for developing one of the most innovative outreach campaigns in 2014.

Anita Lee
Executive Producer (NFB)
Photo : NFB

Anita Lee

Anita Lee is Executive Producer and Head of Studio in Toronto for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), where she helms the programming and production of Ontario projects, including Canadian and international co-productions, and forges key strategic partnerships. Lee is a multi-award-winning producer whose credits include some of the most critically acclaimed works in NFB history, such as Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, named Best Documentary Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle and Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association. The Apology was awarded a Peabody in 2019 and a 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton. Recent projects as executive producer include: StatelessThe Book of Distance (Sundance 2020); This Is Not a Movie (TIFF 2019); What Is Democracy? (TIFF 2018); What Walaa Wants (Berlin 2018; DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs 2018; TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film; CSA nomination for 2019 Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary); Unarmed Verses (Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs 2017; TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film; CSA nomination for 2018 Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary); A Better Man (Hot Docs 2017; Doc NYC 2017) and Draw Me Close (Tribeca 2017, Venice 2017). Lee established the NFB’s Creative Non-Fiction Immersive Lab, which partnered with the CFC and Ford Foundation on Open ImmersionVR, the Creative Doc VR Lab with the National Theatre (UK), and Otherly, a non-fiction Instagram Stories Lab in partnership with POV Spark (PBS). Lee is the Founder/Advisory Chair of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Sudz Sutherland
Executive Producer (Hungry Eyes Media)

Sudz Sutherland

Sudz Sutherland works as both a freelance writer and director of TV dramas and feature films. Sudz’s 2012 feature, Home Again, won the prestigious BAFTA Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival Choice Prize and was nominated for the Best Direction award by the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC). Home Again was the follow-up to his multiple-award-winning, Genie-nominated debut feature, Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, which received the best Canadian first feature award at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.

His first dramatic series, Shoot the Messenger, co-created with writer/producer Jennifer Holness in 2016, aired in the US on WGN and in Canada on CBC and was distributed internationally by ITV. Sudz directed The Phantoms in 2012, which won an International Emmy in the Kids: TV Movie/Mini-Series category and a Canadian Screen Award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series, in addition to receiving a DGC Best Direction nomination.

Sudz also co-wrote and directed the 2009 CBC dramatic miniseries Guns, starring Colm Feore and Elisha Cuthbert, which won five Gemini Awards, including Best Writing and Best Direction. In 2008, Sudz directed an episode of the anthology feature film Toronto Stories, which screened at TIFF. He wrote and directed the triple Gemini Award-winning Doomstown (Best Direction, Best Supporting Actress, Best Television Movie) for CTV/Sarrazin-Couture in 2006.

Sudz’s episodic television directing work includes: Netflix’s Designated Survivor and Ginny & Georgia; NBC’s Blindspot; CW’s The Flash; Sony’s Carter; CW’s Reign; CBS Studios’ Beauty and the Beast; SYFY’s Haven; Global’s Private Eyes; and CBC’s Murdoch MysteriesFrankie Drake Mysteries and Wild Roses.

Sudz’s powerful half-hour dramatic short, My Father’s Hands, screened at TIFF in 1999 and won the $20,000 HBO Short Film Award at the Acapulco Black Film festival. In Canada it went on to win prizes at the Yorkton Film Festival (four awards including best drama, script, direction and best actor) and was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Short. Sudz also co-directed the NFB documentary Speakers for the Dead with Jennifer Holness in 2000. He is currently developing two new feature films, Operation Red Dog and Duppy.

Promotional Materials



in co-production with

Rosa Iris Diendomi-Álvarez
Teofilo Murat
Gladys Feliz

Written and Directed by
Michèle Stephenson

Jennifer Holness
Lea Marin

Michèle Stephenson

Executive Producers
Anita Lee
Joe Brewster
Sudz Sutherland

Executive Producer for Black Public Media
Leslie Fields-Cruz

Executive Producer for Latino Public Broadcasting
Sandie Viquez Pedlow

Directors of Photography
Alfredo Alcántara
Tito Rodriguez
Naiti Gámez
Nadia Hallgren
Jaime Guerra
Pedro Arnau Bros Santana

Field Producers
Johanné Gomez-Terreiro
Susibel Espaillat
Tony Then-Repozo

Sophie Farkas-Bolla

Additional Editor
Andres Landau

Consulting Editors
Ricardo Acosta
Lawrence Jackman

Music Composed by
Ben Fox

Line Producer
Norah Wakula

Associate Producer
Elise Whittington
Ayana Enomoto-Hurst
Patricia Benabe

Assistant Editor
Jordan Kawai

Story Editor
Jennifer Holness

Rosa Iris Diendomi-Álvarez

2nd Unit Cinematography
Francisco Alberto Rodriguez
Ariel Mota

Additional Camera
Michèle Stephenson

Production Sound
Michèle Stephenson
Johanné Gomez-Terrero
Susibel Espaillat

Conrad Louis Charles

Assistant to the Director
Ayana Enomoto-Hurst
Dinayuri Rodriguez
Ashley Lin

Production Assistant
Tennile Brown

Administrative Assistant
Stephanie Ukonga

Dinayuri Rodriguez
Elizabeth Kalbfleisch
Tina Meister

In-House Graphics
Brett Lamb

Photo Visual-Research
Michèle Stephenson

Storyboard Artist
Michèle Stephenson

Hatty Reisman
Divya Shahani
Jennifer Dick

Production Accountant
Rajiv Gupta
Dania Kannan
Melissa Kalef

Post-Production Accountant
Cheryl Henry

Front Row Insurance

For the NFB

Manager, Studio Operations
Mark Wilson

Studio Administrators
Stefanie Brantner
Patricia Bourgeois

Production Supervisor
Marcus Matyas

Technical Coordinator (Toronto)
Kevin Riley

Technical Coordinator (Montreal)
Luc Binette

Digital Editing Technician (Montreal)
Patrick Trahan

Production Coordinators
Andrew Martin Smith
Katie Murray

Marketing Manager
Melissa Wheeler

Marketing Coordinator
Michelle Rozon

Legal Counsel
Peter Kallianiotis

Head Business Affairs, Distribution
Mary Graziano

Johnny Álvarez Roja
Joseph Etienne
Juan Bautista Soriano Garcia

Post-Production House
Urban Post-Production

Post Project Manager
Roberta Bratti

Mila Patriki

Sound Editor
Ryan Birnberg

Foley Artist
Andrea Agro

Foley Recordist
Joshua Pichardo

Re-recording Mixers
Chris Guglick
Matt McKenzie

Additional Re-Recording Mixers
Keith Elliott

Re-Recording Assistant
Calvin Tran
Tyler Hall

Online Editor
Rouben Boudagian

Urban Picture Operations
Bruce Rees

Post-Production Coordinator
Tyler Evans

Michèle Stephenson
Andres Landau
Ricardo Acosta
Dinayuri Rodriguez
Janil Santana
Natalie Rivera
Leobianny Hilario
Williams M. Amaya
Berlotte Antoine
Gisela Zuniga

Moraime story inspired by the novel El Masacre se Pasa A Pie by Freddy Prestol Castillo


Score recorded and produced by Ben Fox at The Cabin Studios
Michael Peter Olsen – cello
Adrian Cook – clarinet, bass clarinet

Additional score mixing by Dennis Patterson at Big Smoke Audio

Rosa Iris Campaign Song
Performed by
Ricardo Ochoa
Lyrics by MC Baby

La Otra Cara
Production and Performed by Azuei
Composed by
Ezel Feliz
Lyrics by
James Vergneau aka Rebel Layonn, Perla Marola, Omar Tavarez aka Pepaflow

Dominican Dembow Instrumental
Written and Performed by Victor Montero

Archival Sources
El Jarabe News Show
Presidencia República Dominicana Media Channel
Russian TV (RT)

Supported by
Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Fund for the Arts Grant Program
Sundance Documentary Film Program
Surdna Foundation
TFI Pond5 Program

In Association with
Chicken & Egg Pictures

Presented by
Telefilm Canada and Rogers Group of Funds through the Theatrical Documentary Program

Produced with the Assistance of
The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund

Additional Funding Provided by
Women in Film Finishing Fund

This project was completed with the support of Women Make Moves, Inc.

Produced in association with Black Public Media

Produced in association with Latino Public Broadcasting

This program is a presentation of the Black Public Media and Latino Public Broadcasting
with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


© 2020 Hispaniola Productions and the National Film Board of Canada. All rights.

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.

  • About Hispaniola Productions

    Established in Toronto, Hispaniola Productions is a partnership between the Rada Film Group and Hungry Eyes telling stories by, for, and about communities of colour. Hispaniola Productions is led by award-winning filmmakers Michèle Stephenson (AMERICAN PROMISE, 2015) and Jennifer Holness (SHOOT THE MESSENGER, 2016; HOME AGAIN, 2012), whose works span across different formats from television, feature films, to virtual reality. STATELESS is the company’s first feature production.

  • About The Rada Film Group

    The Rada Film Group is a media production company committed to creating compelling visual stories by, about and for communities of color that provoke thought and dialogue about our complex multicultural world and amplify voices and perspectives often neglected in dominant culture spaces. Keeping the art of storytelling and cinematic language front and center, Rada Film Group has created narrative films, documentaries and immersive media that challenge and inspire audiences across the world to think critically about their own place and roles in society.

Press Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.