The Agronomist (2004) Trailer
Jean Dominique was a hero to the Haitian people, a journalist and freedom fighter who waged a tireless fight against injustice and oppression in Haiti, first in his homeland and then from exile in New York. Today, more than four years after his still-unsolved assassination, Dominique continues to inspire the battle for liberty and democracy in Haiti. The Agronomist, directed by Jonathan Demme, interweaves footage and photos of Dominique with the testimonies of family, friends and colleagues who worked with him.
Dominique studied in Paris to learn how to help his fellow Haitians farm their land more effectively through agronomy. But when his mentor was killed by members of the "TonTon Macoutes" - the personal militia of dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier - Dominique found himself implicated by association, and spent six months in jail. Released with a sober outlook on his nation's leadership, he moved to Port-au-Prince, where he repurposed his life. Pursuing his love of film, Dominique co-directed and narrated the first film made by Haitians in Haiti, a 1961 documentary about a Caribbean beauty pageant. He also became director of Haiti's Cinè Club, believing that films could enlighten the mostly illiterate Haitian masses.
In 1968, Dominique purchased the lease on Radio Haiti Inter, Haiti's oldest radio station, and launched the career that would change his life. He added news to the station's entertainment-only format and introduced the use of Haitian Creole, the language of the majority of Haitians, allowing all of Haiti's people to receive news in their own language for the first time. Dominique wanted to clarify political situations for the Haitian people through accurate and unbiased information.
As owner and operator of his nation's oldest and only free radio station, Dominique was frequently at odds with his country's various repressive governments, and spent much of the '80s and early '90s in exile in New York, where Demme continued to interview him over the years.
Dominique continued to fight tirelessly against his country's overwhelming injustice, oppression and poverty. His shocking, still-unsolved assassination in April 2000 gave Demme the impetus to assemble more than a decade's worth of material into a celebration of this dynamic man and his legacy.