scene from 'stones in the sun'*The African Film Festival is currently city hopping in New York, displaying some of the most remarkable movies and short films related to the African diaspora.

Stones in the Sun,” a film by Haitian-American filmmaker Patricia Benoit, captures the essence of a reality not frequently shared on camera.

Inspired by her own family’s exile from Haiti, Benoit’s film takes place in the 1980s, revisiting the country during a nationwide uprising against then President (or dictator) Jean-Claude Duvalier. Known for his brutal militaristic tactics, under his authority, many Haitians were killed, tortured and fled the country looking for a safe-haven.

Three Haitian families all dealing with the same reality in various ways flee the country to land in New York, where they attempt to pick up the pieces.

While all three had varying experiences, from rape and murder, to displacement and shame, they all unite on the same issue and that’s struggle.

During Q&A, Benoit regarded the film as another side of the Haitian story.

“One thing that irritates me is that when people talk about Haiti, they talk about the resistance,” she said. “But people forget that there is damage. There is damage and in order to survive, people hide the wounds and they push them down.”

Indeed her point was well taken. Each of the characters dealing with their connection to the suffering was haunted by the past, by the demons that crumbled their worlds.

In the film, sisters “Yannick” and “Micheline,” though raised in the same era, in the same household in Haiti, are worlds apart. Yannick, educated and given opportunity, stays in Haiti as a teacher to empower youth and enliven revolution. She witnesses a murder and flees to America to stay with her sister who has become the all-American woman, living in the suburbs in a nice house with the proverbial white picket fence.

Unable to cope with the reality of her homeland, the suffering of others and her horrific past, Micheline clashes with her sister who begins to rock her perfect world.

“Gerald” the son of an infamous military oppressor builds a new life in America, changes his name and fights over the airwaves with a revolutionary radio show, speaking of uprising and overthrowing the military. He marries a white woman, “Rebecca” who is completely unconscious of her husband’s internal battles. His father, deathly ill, escapes Haiti and comes to his doorstep. “Gerald” is forced to somehow reconcile his past with his present while continue to stand firm on his beliefs.

Check out the full story here.

Check out the trailer for “Stones in the Sun”:

STONES IN THE SUN from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.