Haitians are rich in culture and proud people who meet adversity with humor and dance. Yet, if we look at history, Haitians are a very abused people.
Democracy in Haiti has always been a fight. Did you know that Haiti is the 1st Black Republic in the world…the second independent nation in the western hemisphere…second ONLY to the United States of America? Did you also know that the first victory for Africans against the institution of slavery was the Haitian Revolution in 1804.
This was HUGE, because when slaves all over the world saw this revolution, they looked upon it as their beacon of hope! Since Haiti was a “black” nation and since they didn’t want to give black ideas…Haiti was “kept down” for many years. Enter Francois “Papa Doc”Duvailer in 1957 and called himself the leader of the black middle class and created havoc in Haiti. During Duvalier’s “dictatorship”, those who questioned him were captured and executed. The Duvalier dictatorship continued with his son in 1971 until he too was driven into exile.
December 16, 1990. Haiti experienced their first democratic elections. Jean Aristide became President, however, when the classes turned on each other, Aristide too went into exile. In 2006, another democratic election was on the horizon and Rene Preval was elected. Who, ironically enough, got “selective amnesia” regarding his campaign promises and stole money from the people of Haiti.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake shakes Haiti’s capital Port-Au-Prince to its core. It was the largest earthquake to ever hit that region. The Haitian government estimated that 220,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 2.3 million people were left homeless. Including its President Rene Preval at the end of his reign as Haitian President.
Enter Pras Michel. Pras was a member of the Grammy winning rap group The Fugees with Lauryn Hill and Wycleaf Jean. Pras Michel is also a native of Haiti. He recalls that almost a year later 90% of the capital was still in ruins, there was no leadership and nothing was done to rebuild Port-Au-Prince. With all of that in mind, he convinces his friend and fellow musician known for being outrageous and outspoken – Michel Martelly “Sweet Micky” to run for President of Haiti. Pras firmly believed that “Sweet Micky” can offer Haiti the change it so sorely craves to move forward as a country.
Being very controversial, Sweet Micky always spoke out against the Haitian government and mostly used his music to put them on blast with lyrics like “Micky says…grow some balls…” Politicians weren’t amused and placed Martelly on a government hit list. Did that stop him…NOPE!!! On August 6, 2010 with Pras’ endorsement, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly officially announces his bid to run for President of Haiti…in Canada. Together, Pras and Michel set out to protect the legacy of their beloved country…Haiti.
However, we quickly learn that everyone is not so enthusiastic about Michel’s bid for President. Some feel he is an embarrassment…a clown who entertains for a living and will not take the duties as President of Haiti seriously. Would it be dangerous to have a President with a dual personality of artist vs politician?
While those concerns and more are being raised…who announces they are also running? Pras’ old buddy Wycleaf Jean. Now…it’s about to get real interesting!
Director Ben Patterson brilliantly captures an important part of Haiti’s history as a fledgling democracy struggling to produce a government worthy of the world’s first black republic. The film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival and opens at Laemmle Musica Hall in Los Angeles on November 13th and NYC – Cinema Village on November 20th.
Executive Produced by Marlon Wayans, SWEET MICKY FOR PRESIDENT sheds the light on how politics and friendship can get a little complicated. Who wins? Wycleaf or Martelly? Does the country move forward or ten steps behind or does a woman become Haiti’s newly elected President?