Friday, February 6, 2015

The Political Trajectory of "Sweet Micky"

SWEET MICKY FOR PRESIDENT - TRAILER from Something Kreative Studios on Vimeo.

On the same month that Haiti dissolved its parliament and President Michael Martelly announced some controversial Cabinet appointments, the film 'Sweet Micky for President' received two top awards for Best Documetnary at Park City’s Slamdance festival. What do the two events have to do with each other? They both feature  Michael Martelly as a leading character.

For the news about the political developments in Port-au-Prince, we invite you to read  this week's edition of NotiCen because this blog post is all about the documentary.  In a nutshell, this is what the documentary is all about.
"Music and politics collide when international music star Pras Michel of the Fugees returns to his homeland of Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010 to mobilize a presidential campaign for Haiti’s most controversial musician: Michel Martelly aka Sweet Micky. The politically inexperienced pair set out against a corrupted government, civil unrest and a fixed election. When Pras’ former bandmate - superstar Wyclef Jean - also enters the presidential race, their chances seem even further doomed. But despite the odds, they never give up on their honest dream of changing the course of Haiti’s future forever."
As a first time director, Ben Patterson received an abnormally high level of acclaim for the film.  However, the debut of his film at Slamdance last month had  many people in and out of the political world talking about Haiti, particularly about the current president, Martelly. Slamdance  is a ‘cousin’ festival to Sundance that features films which fall outside of Sundance’s elite lineup,

To learn how Martelly came to run for president, it is useful to review some background history. This history is depicted in the documentary Sweet Micky for President. In 2011, following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, Patterson accompanied his friend Pras Michel, a former member of the legendary hip hop trio the Fugees, on a trip to the Caribbean nation.

Patterson initially captured Pras’ frustration with the state of affairs in his native country. The  documentary took a different twist when Pras decided to encourage his friend, a wildly popular Haitian musician, to join the several dozen candidates running in the Haitian presidential race.  Michel Martelly (also known by his stage name “Sweet Micky”) had been a billboard staple in Haiti since the 1980s, and was known for his wild stage-presence. However, he was also known for his pointed, often poetic lyrics that criticized the government. Off of the stage, Martelly had been a vocal figure in Haitian popular culture and politics, speaking out strongly against former leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide and supporting the coup that overthrew him.

Pras drummed up support for Martelly’s campaign not only from his longtime musical partner and Haitian-born friend, Wyclef Jean, but also from Hollywood stars such as Sean Penn and from a powerful US couple:  Bill and Hilary Clinton.

Sweet Micky for President” tells the almost unbelievable story of the rise of a politically-minded pop star to the presidency of one of the world’s most troubled nations. Surely, it is one of those stories that even the most seasoned authors of fictional screenplays could never make up, a story that involves intense poverty, massive international aid projects, American hip hop stars. And let us not forget the role of the Clintons and political rival Aristide, a popular Haitian figure in his own right.  When “Sweet Micky” entered office in 2011, it was the first time in Haitian history that an incumbent president peacefully transferred power to a member of the opposition.

-Jake Sandler

Also in LADB on Feb. 4-6
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