In 2000, an election in a supposedly democratic country was plagued by allegations of fraud—and I'm not talking about Gore versus Dubya. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the twice-deposed leader of war-torn Haiti, and his Fanmi Lavalas party were accused of impropriety. But according to this unabashedly leftist documentary, Aristide's ouster was the direct result of disinformation spread by oppositional forces in a plot to prevent Haiti from becoming a popular democracy.
The appalling situation in Haiti has been hundreds of years in the making. Director Nicolas Rossier summarizes the country's sordid history—which includes slavery, extortion and exploitation—and then includes a number of talking heads who address its current plight. Although Rossier is careful to present both sides, it's clear he's an Aristide advocate. Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover, ubiquitous scholar Noam Chomsky and Aristide's attorney Ira Kurzban champion the exiled president and point fingers at the international community. Kurzban, a particularly heated interviewee, tirelessly rants against America's complicity. The Aristide haters, including Roger F. Noriega, Bush's assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, are not nearly as convincing.
But by far the most compelling voices are those of the impoverished Haitian people; unfortunately, they're only heard briefly at the end. While the film's real-life twists and turns are difficult to follow, the human desperation it depicts is all too easy to grasp. (Opens Fri; Pioneer.)