The Agronomist

on April 23, 2004 by Susan Green
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Jonathan Demme, whose documentary credits include "Stop Making Sense," helps make sense of Haiti's violent history in "The Agronomist." The Oscar-winning director ("Silence of the Lambs") profiles Jean Dominique, a popular dissident who turned his attention from agriculture to broadcasting. As a commentator on Radio Haiti Inter, which he founded in 1968, this lively intellectual with an infectious laugh made a career of challenging the ruthless Duvaliers--pere et fils.

Dominque's activism also may have irritated the U.S., which propped up the dictatorship until 1986 but allegedly continues interfering in the Caribbean island nation's affairs. Although he and his equally committed wife, Michele Montas, grew up wealthy, they eschewed a life of idle privilege to ally themselves with Haiti's poor and oppressed. But the couple paid for it dearly, often threatened by right-wing death squads at home and twice forced into exile abroad. Demme's riveting chronicle spotlights the selfless heroism of a man faced with eventual martyrdom. Starring Jean Dominique and Michele Montas. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Produced by Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf and Bevin McNamara. A Thinkfilm release. Historical documentary. English-, French- and Creole-language; subtitled. Rated PG-13 for some violent images and brief nudity. Running time: 91 min

Tags: ean Dominique and Michele Montas. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Produced by Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf and Bevin McNamara. A Thinkfilm release. Historical documentary, Radio, Caribbean, dictatorship, heroism, martyrdom
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