Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Danny Glover’s Toussaint lacks "white heroes"

Actor Danny Glover is planning on making his directorial debut next year with an epic about Haitian independence hero Toussaint-Louverture. Glover recently told the press that he had difficultly finding financiers to back the film because there were not enough “white heroes.” Glover told Paris’ AFP, "Producers said 'It's a nice project, a great project... where are the white heroes?'" That’s a bit of a strange request considering the film is about the liberation of Haiti, the worlds first free Black republic and the first country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery.

It was especially difficult to finding funding for the film in Europe, according to Glover, "I couldn't get the money here, I couldn't get the money in Britain. I went to everybody… The first question you get, is 'Is it a black film?’ All of them agree, it's not going to do good in Europe, it's not going to do good in Japan.”

That’s where Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez comes in. Glover received 18 of the 30 million dollars needed to fund the film from Villa del Cine, a new government-funded studio outside of Caracas, which is part of Chavez’s effort to combat what he calls “the Hollywood film dictatorship.” Chavez hopes that Toussaint will teach international audiences about imperialism and Western oppression and hegemony.

The film is set to star Don Cheadle, Mos Def, Wesley Snipes and Angela Bassett, and is being shot in Venezuela.

Many Venezuelan filmmakers and producers are not too excited about Villa del Cine’s $18 million investment in Toussaint. In an open letter the National Association of Film Makers and the Venezuelan Chamber of Film Producers said "It is Mr. Glover who should be bringing dollars to Venezuela."

I hope the film gets made and has a decent release/distribution because it an extremely important but often overlooked part of history. I also hope that the film is able to generate money for the Venezuelan film industry and help establish it as a progressive media powerhouse. Keep an eye out for Toussaint in 2009.

Props to Playahata.com for putting me on to this story.


Anonymous said...

Glover didn't try hard enough to find money in his own backyard, in America. There are plenty of independant movie companies here and also a large Black business community to support producers.

The motives of Chavez are suspicious at best. He's just trying to stir the pot.

stefan said...

to support producers of independent films, sure.. but to make a historical epic that can compete with hollywood?

there are plenty of criticisms you can make about chavez, but the big american production companies would never pay for this movie.. and somehow it seems like less of a sell-out if it gets the imprint of chavismo than if danny had let hollywood shove white heroes into the script. they would have had napoleon and josephine freeing the slaves while toussaint carried their diamonds around like in that stupid leonardo dicaprio movie.. fuck that

Jonathan Krauth said...

I Being a venezuelan, I hate CHAVEZ, but unfortunately I do have to agree with Stefan's point. WELL PUT.