- SAN FRANCISCO
Director Francis Ford Coppola has joined Gessica Généus’ debut narrative film, Freda, as executive producer. The Creole-language feature made its world premiere earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard, and is only the second film in Haiti’s history to be submitted for the Academy Awards® in the category of Best International Feature Film.
“Freda is the kind of cinematic experience I value most: a journey into a way of life not normally accessible to me, providing insight about the real people who live in it. Gessica Généus’ film is an unforgettable jewel told with simple eloquence, beautifully memorable performances, and genuine feeling that few films ever achieve,” said Coppola. “This glimpse of contemporary life in Haiti shows a people who refuse to be defined by their tragic moments and who thrive with good hearts and best intentions. It is my humble honor to serve as the executive producer of Freda in support of Gessica and the wonderfully creative and artistic film community in Haiti.”
Coppola is a long-time advocate of Haitian cinema and a patron of the Artists Institute of Haiti, a private foundation dedicated to educating its youth in the cinematic arts and empowering the country’s film and music industries at the national level and on the international stage. Coppola was among the organization’s original donors when its Ciné Institute film school first opened in 2008 and ever since, he has remained committed to its support annually. The Artists Institute is a backbone of the film community in Haiti. Many graduates served on the crew during the production of Freda. Together with SaNoSi Productions and a network of Haitian women, it is supporting Freda’s qualification and submission as the country’s second-ever entry into the Oscars race (the first being Ayiti Mon Amour in 2017).
Freda introduces us to the title character who lives with her family in a poor, yet vibrant neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, where they make ends meet thanks to their small street shop. Freda wants to believe in the future of her country, but when faced with precarious living conditions and the rise of violence in Haiti, she and her family wonder whether to stay or leave.
Shot on location in Haiti, Freda stars Néhémie Bastien, Djanaïna François, Fabiola Rémy, Gaëlle Bien-Aimé, Jean Jean, Rolaphton Mercure, and Cantave Kerven. It is produced by SaNoSi Productions‘ Jean-Marie Gigon, Ayizan Productions’ Gessica Généus, and Merveilles Production’s Faissol Gnonlonfin (2021, 93 min).
SaNoSi Productions is handling international sales rights for Freda. Nour Productions will distribute the film in France, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Généus is an actress, singer and director from Haiti. She began her career when she was 17 years old. After the earthquake in 2010, she became actively involved in the reconstruction of her country and she started working for the United Nations. She then won a scholarship to study at Acting International in Paris. She returned to Haiti and created her own production company, Ayzian Productions, to develop her own work.
Between 2014 and 2016 she directed Vizaj Nou, a series of short portraits of major figures from contemporary Haitian society. In 2017, her documentary film Douvan jou ka leve (The Day Will Dawn) won seven awards, which continues to be shown around the world. Freda is her first narrative feature film.