In France a Haitian researcher attempts to read the past within the stratigraphic layers of Jurassic limestone. At the same time, in Haiti, a group of young actors translate and rehearse Monsieur Toussaint, a play written by Édouard Glissant in 1961. The play recounts the last days of the life of Louverture Toussaint, the Haitian revolutionary who died in 1803 in exile in a cell in the French Alps. As the play proceeds, the actors become possessed by the characters they play, and at the end the ghost of Louverture joins the group and guides them on a voyage for a new exile.
The Living and the Dead Ensemble
(Mackenson Bijou, Rossi Jacques Casimir, Dieuvela Cherestal, James Desiris, James Fleurissaint, Louis Henderson, Léonard Jean Baptiste, Cynthia Maignan, Sophonie Maignan, Olivier Marboeuf, Mimétik Nèg) is a group of artists, performers and poets from Haiti, the United Kingdom and France, who first met in Haiti in 2017 to translate into Haitian Creole and stage the play Monsieur Toussaint by Édouard Glissant. The Ensemble produce texts, performances, films and installations with the aim of revealing the cultural richness and history of Haiti, the first independent black republic in the Americas. Born from an idea by Louis Henderson and Olivier Marboeuf, Ouvertures (2020), presented at the Berlino Film Festival, is the first film by The Living and the Dead Ensemble.
Ouvertures (doc, 2020).
"Originally the film set out to document the work of a group of actors that had decided to adapt and translate (from French to Haitian Creole) the play Monsieur Toussaint by Martiniquan poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant. From within a method of documentary we developed a process of fiction writing that uses improvisation and “staged” conversations to create a kind of free improvisational cinema. Gradually the narrative became one about a community in movement, in migration, looking for a future elsewhere, promised through a new kind of exile based upon Haitian history and imagination."