“Mountains” Explores Identity, Community, and Culture Through the Eyes of the Haitian Community of Florida at Milwaukee Film Festival 2024

Little Haiti

According to the World Population Review, Florida is home to the largest Haitian population in the United States. Around 487,632 individuals represent the culture and have built a large community in Miami dubbed “Little Haiti‘.

The film “Mountains” screened at the Downer Theater during the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival showcased Haitian culture and the daily life within their community. Lead actress Sheila Anozier appeared after the viewing for a Q&A answering questions on the experience of working on set.

This is the narrative debut of director Monica Sorelle.

Beyond A Mountain, There are Mountains

Sheila Anozier as Esperance in “Mountains”. (Picture by Milwaukee Film)
Sheila Anozier as Esperance in “Mountains”. (Picture by Milwaukee Film)

The 95-minute film follows a family through the perception of Xavier, a demolition worker in Miami as he works and dreams of moving his family into a bigger house.

His wife, Esperance, is a loving partner who sells handmade clothes with traditional prints and works as a crossing guard. Chris, their son, is a first-generation child struggling to meet his father’s expectations and start his career as a comedian.

The film depicts a lively community that quickly dwindles and begins the process of gentrification yet a portrait of strength and resilience is seen through the Haitian culture continuing through adversity.

This strength can be seen through the use of a Haitian Rara band parading through the streets in times of stress in the film. Traditionally the bands parade through streets gathering participants along the way.

“The Rara scene is actually extremely important, that to an outside person is just like oh they’re just dancing through the streets but that’s community. It’s how we get through struggles, it’s political, all of that is real.”

– Sheila Anozier

Art Imitates Life

The film features Haitian and Haitian-American actors and Haitian Creole is spoken throughout. For Anozier, the film heavily reflected life as she experienced it growing up between the United States and Haiti.

“What you saw on screen was my life, even though we live in the U.S. outside, in the home it’s Haiti,” said Anozier. “ I know what that’s like and I just had to think about it as life.”

The film features staple textiles, food, music, dance, and politics to give viewers a taste of what life is like for the thousands of Haitians who call Miami home.

To watch Carvd N Stone’s 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival interviews click here.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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