The Agronomist

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The Agronomist
The agronomist movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Produced by Jonathan Demme
Edwidge Danticat
Bevin McNamara
Peter Saraf
Written by Jonathan Demme
Starring Jean Dominique
Aboudja
Ronald Reagan
Music by Wyclef Jean
Cinematography Aboudja
Jonathan Demme
Bevin McNamara
Peter Saraf
Edited by Lizzie Gelber
Bevin McNamara
Distributed by THINKFilm
Release date
  • February 23, 2003 (2003-02-23)
(Miami International Film Festival)
  • April 23, 2004 (2004-04-23)
(US)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English, French, Haitian Creole
Box office $226,189 (US Domestic)

The Agronomist is a 2003 American documentary directed by Jonathan Demme, and starring Jean Dominique. The documentary follows the life of Dominique, who ran Haiti's first independent radio station, Radio Haiti-Inter, during multiple repressive regimes.

The documentary starts with an interview where Jean Dominique recounts a day when he was able to broadcast gunfire outside Radio Haiti-Inter.

Summary[edit]

The titular Agronomist is Jean Leopold Dominique, owner of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti's first independent radio station. Jonathan Demme assembles this documentary with historical footage and personal interviews he conducted years earlier with Jean Dominique. The result is the portrait of a seriously ethical individual who refuses to submit to power (and corruption) even unto death. The result is a highly emotional documentary of a unique individual who refused to submit to injustice.

Radio Haiti was founded in 1960, but in 1969 it became Radio Haiti-Inter. Jean Dominique's broadcasts focused on injustice from the perspective of pro-democracy for the masses. He was able to approach and present problems from the perspective of the poor Haitians, but especially the rural agriculturalists with whom he identified closed.

The most remarkable fact of Jean Dominique's radio career is that it lasted as long as it did in the face of powerful opposition from elites. While the powerful attempted to silence all critics (Jean Dominique survived torture and attempted assassinations, as did some of his staff), the radio host had captured the support, often covert but sometime daringly overt, or the Haitian people within broadcast range. As a result of outright courage and solidarity among the righteous (those compelled to act justly), Radio Haiti-Inter wasn't silenced for decades.

Even after the assassination of Jean Dominique, his wife and fellow journalist, Michèle Montas, courageously broadcast from the station for another three years. Radio Haiti-Inter ceased operations in 2003.

Although The Agronomist himself would call this documentary the story of a "human being," by the film's end, most viewers will have been forced by the sheer rhetorical power of its subject, and the director, to elevate Jean Dominique to the status of hero.

Reception[edit]

The Agronomist was shown on May 3, 2004 at the UN Headquarters in NYC while observing World Press Freedom Day. There were no seats vacant for the showing at noon.[1]

The film received favorable reviews by critics. It received a 96% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes[2] Praise focused on the use of historical footage combined with interviews.

Box office receipts totaled $226,189 in 21 theaters in the U.S.[3]

DVD release[edit]

The movie was released on DVD on June 7, 2005 with English and French spoken language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Life and Work of Jean Dominique UN Chronicle.
  2. ^ Critic Reviews Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
  3. ^ Agronomist Box Office Results Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
  4. ^ DVD Release Date Amazon.com

External links[edit]