New documentary on migration and discrimination in Hispaniola wins Amnesty prize

A new documentary highlighting the issues of migration, deportations and discrimination in the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) was awarded the Amnesty International Human Rights Prize at the 2016 edition of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) last night.

Haitian director Jean Jean’s documentary Si Bondye vle, Yuli (God willing, Yuli) was handed the award at a ceremony in Port of Spain on 27 September.

The winning documentary focuses on the story of Yuli, a Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic for more than 35 years, who is trying to regularize her migration status and avoid deportation to Haiti. By following her steps as she tries to overcome challenges to put together her application, the documentary shows the vulnerability of Haitians and their descendants as they navigate the regularization process.

“The Amnesty International Human Rights prize was awarded to Si Bondye vle, Yuli’ s strong analysis of human rights issues in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in the context of discrimination against Haitian migrants,” said Chiara Sangiorgio from Amnesty International and a member of the jury.

The Amnesty International Human Rights prize was awarded to Si Bondye vle, Yuli’ s strong analysis of human rights issues in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in the context of discrimination against Haitian migrants

Chiara Sangiorgio from Amnesty International and a member of the jury.

“The story of this strong woman, Yuli, gives us a gritty and authentic insight into the impact of the regularization process in the Dominican Republic as well as the chilling reality of the deportation of thousands of people to Haiti. Migration and discrimination are some of the most relevant human rights issues in the region. By awarding the prize to this documentary we hope more people will become aware of what has been happening across the continent,” said Folade Mutota, Social Development Advisor and Lobbyist and founder of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development and member of the jury.

Other contenders for this year’s prize were The Companion by Pavel Giroud, where the issue of forced treatment of HIV-infected people in Cuba provides the background for a tale of friendship; and Before the rooster crows by Ari Maniel Cruz, the coming of age story of a teenager in Puerto Rico, which explores the issue of children’s rights under the lens of her relationship with her father who comes home after years in prison.

“Films remain a powerful tool for bringing human rights issues to life, some of which are more nuanced than others. By focusing on human rights, this prize encourages our filmmakers to explore the human rights dimension of the stories around them,” said Sunity Maharaj, Managing Director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies and journalist.

The Amnesty International Human Rights Prize was established in 2014 to recognize the work of Caribbean filmmakers working on human rights issues.

The jury was made up by: Sunity Maharaj, Managing Director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies and journalist; Folade Mutota, Social Development Advisor and Lobbyist and founder of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD); and Chiara Sangiorgio, thematic adviser at Amnesty International.

About Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International is a global movement of more than three million supporters, members and activists in over 150 countries and territories. The organisation exposes human rights violations and campaigns for justice around the world. It is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion, and is funded mainly by its membership and public donations. For more information, visit: http://www.amnesty.org/

About the trinidad+tobago film festivalFounded in 2006, the ttff is an annual celebration of films from and about Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival also screens films curated from contemporary world cinema. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of the Caribbean film industry by hosting workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities. The Festival is presented by Flow, given leading sponsorship by bpTT and TTFC, and supporting sponsorship by RBC Royal Bank, The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism and Embassy of the United States of America. For further information visit www.ttfilmfestival.com.