Last weekend, July 14, the Haitian directed movie premiere for "The Heavenly Side of Hell" was in Miami followed by an after party in Ft. Lauderdale.
When I saw this movie advertised like this... "we hope to give you a tour of the real Haiti on July 14, While the media is having fun exposing our nation like Hell on Earth, it's our pleasure to show you the Heavenly side of it. The Heavenly side of Hell, Premiere July 14," I thought for sure I would see the culture, beautiful places to visit and warm, loving, caring Haitians as they are. I was unpleasantly surprised.
This was my first Haitian movie premiere. As we drove up, everyone was dressed to kill. The women and men looked amazing! We sat down to watch the movie. While I really, really, really appreciate the excitement leading towards the premiere, the extreme talent of the actors and director, I have to admit, I left with a horrible feeling.
I know Haitians (and many others) love action movies. Action movies are extremely difficult to direct, shoot and edit. Although I don't particularly like action movies myself, I can appreciate the hard work that goes into them. However, this movie was full of violence, and very little dialogue.
As an American who visits Haiti despite the negative attention it receives, I do not think that showing corruption, murder and violence was wise. Americans are deathly afraid to travel to Haiti. Everyone hears it and sees it on the news. The cast even mentioned that the news shows the bad parts. I believe that anyone who hasn't traveled to Haiti and sees this movie will be even more convinced NOT TO GO. It was exaggerated, violent and scary, to be frank.
As the Haitian government is working day and night trying so hard to improve tourism and clean up the country, this movie came out at a bad time. I really do not think that they would appreciate this perception that was portrayed. Haitians want to be respected and understood. This message just confirms the negative perception that already exists.
It is extremely important to be aware and not blind to the violence and corruption that does exist in Haiti, but advertising it as "the heavenly side" was the farthest thing from reality. I appreciate the hard work and applaud all of the cast, but please, please, please show THE REAL HAITI next time you make a film. If you believe bad press is good press, you might be right, but in this time of reconstruction, it is just wrong.