Start your Black History Month screenings with one of the most powerful Canadian docs on the circuit. Stateless is now free to stream from the NFB following an acclaimed run that included a special jury prize at Hot Docs, and a spot on POV’s list for the best docs of 2020. Stateless is director Michèle Stephenson’s compelling study of racial divides in the Dominican Republic as over 200,000 people of Haitian descent were rendered stateless following a court ruling that stripped citizenship of anyone with parents from the neighbouring country born after 1929. Stephenson follows a complicated and divisive argument from both sides, taking audiences through a tense conflict with no end in sight.
Stateless features several memorable characters, particularly the indefatigable activist and attorney Rosa Iris. Rosa campaigns for change and makes a run for political office, but finds herself up against a broken system. There’s also Juan Teofilo Murat, Rosa’s cousin and one of 200,000 impacted by the 2013 ruling. On the other side, Gladys Feliz is a member of the national movement group blaming Haitians for the DR’s ills. Their contemporary narratives carry echoes of the 1937 massacre in which tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were slaughtered based on the darkness of their skin.
“I grew up in a space where understanding issues of colour and racial hierarchy were embedded, even in our family dynamics, and as part of Latin America, in terms of how colonialism and post-colonialism continue to manifest themselves in this racialized way,” said Stephenson in an interview with POV when Stateless played Hot Docs. “The right wing nationalist movement in the DR is a microcosm of the larger white supremacist movements that exist across the world today and are gaining more power. I felt that it was somehow my duty as someone with lighter skin from that space to see how I could tell that part of the story so that we really understand what the stakes are.”
Watch Stateless below today from the NFB.
Synopsis: In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, on the basis of anti-black racism. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929, rendering more than 200,000 people stateless. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary follows the grassroots campaign of a young attorney named Rosa Iris, as she challenges electoral corruption and fights to protect the right to citizenship for all people.
Presented in partnership with the NFB.