Press Release

June 14 2021

POV: 'Stateless' | Press Kit

Overview

New York, NY — June 15, 2021 — What does it mean to be rejected by the only country you call home? When a ruling from the Dominican Republic Supreme Court strips citizenship from Dominicans of Haitian descent, over 200,000 are suddenly rendered without nationality, identity or homeland.

Award-winning director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary, Stateless, follows the families of those affected by the 2013 ruling, uncovering the complex history and present-day politics of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through the grassroots electoral campaign of a young attorney named Rosa Iris.

Stateless has its national broadcast premiere on the PBS documentary series POV on July 19, 2021. POV is American television's longest-running independent documentary series, now in its 34th season. The critically acclaimed film is the winner of the Blackstar Film Festival Best Feature Documentary Award (2020) and is an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will also be available to stream for free for 30 days at pov.org until August 18, 2021.

In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were murdered by the Dominican army, based on anti-black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. In 2013, the citizenship of tens of thousands was revoked, retroactive all the way back to 1929, leading to the displacement of those who have known the Dominican Republic as home for generations. As attorney Rosa Iris phrases it, “They’re here, but they don’t exist.” With conservatives calling for deportation, immigrations bans or the building of walls, the conflict mirrors those of other countries sharing borders, where violence and racism go hand in hand. Citizens merely advocating for Haitians risk physical harm.

Yet, in this dangerous climate, Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice by running for congress. Stephenson traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests.

“As a hyphenated Black Latina,” Stephenson states, “I felt compelled to express how deeply embedded the racial caste system is in our Latinx communities and how identity and citizenship are so closely connected to anti-Blackness—and yet its discussion either escapes or is superficially misconstrued by mainstream media. Stateless highlights universal themes of access to citizenship, migration and systemic racism. In the US, we are witnessing the chipping away at immigrants’ and citizens’ rights. We are facing a global crisis of white supremacist manipulation of migrants’ rights, birthright citizenship, and human dignity for Black and brown people.”

"Michèle Stephenson is a talented filmmaker who has never shied away from tackling difficult and uncomfortable issues in her work. With Stateless she forces us to look beyond just Black and white into the vast complexities of racism and identity that are truly universal. We are proud to partner with her on this important film," said Erika Dilday, Executive Producer of POV | Executive Director, American Documentary.

Filmed with a chiaroscuro effect, Stateless utilizes hidden camera footage to present a gritty, intimate closeup of the Nationalist movement, the struggles of Dominicans of Haitian descent attempting to navigate a system designed to work against them, and the perils of Rosa Iris’s pursuit of social justice. The film intertwines this narrative with scenes recounting the legend of Moriame, a young woman fleeing brutal violence. The scenes, richly imbued with elements of magical realism, are an artful complement to the realities of the violent and disheartening depths of institutionalized oppression that Stateless brings to light.

Michèle Stephenson continues her longtime connection with POV and PBS with the broadcast of Stateless. She is the co-director, with Joe Brewster, of the groundbreaking American Promise. POV supported Stephenson's VR collaborative work with creative partners Joe Brewster and Yasmin Elayat of Scatter, The Changing Same: Episode One, The Dilemma, which premiered this year at Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier and is also featured at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival's Immersive program.

Spanish

Nueva York, NY – 15 de Junio de 2021 – ¿Qué significa ser rechazado por el único país que has llamado tu hogar? Cuando una sentencia de la Corte Suprema de la República Dominicana extrae la ciudadanía de dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana, más de 200,000 son repentinamente renderizados sin nacionalidad, identidad o patria.

El nuevo documental de Michèle Stephenson, Stateless(Apátrida), sigue a las familias de los afectados por la orden del 2013, descubriendo la compleja historia y la política de hoy de Haití y la República Dominicana a través de la campaña electoral de base de una joven abogada Rosa Iris.

Stateless(Apátrida) tiene su estreno nacional en la serie documental de PBS POV el 19 de Julio de 2021. POV es la serie documental independiente más larga de la televisión estadounidense, ahora en su 34a temporada. La aclamada película es la ganadora del Blackstar Film Festival Best Feature Documentary Award (2020) y es una selección oficial del Tribeca Film Festival. La película también estará disponible para ser transmitido gratis durante 30 días en pov.org hasta el 18 de agosto de 2021.

En 1937, decenas de miles de haitianos y dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana fueron asesinados por el ejército dominicano, basado en el odio antinegro fomentado por el gobierno dominicano. En 2013, la ciudadanía de decenas de miles fue revocada, retroactiva hasta 1929, lo que llevó al desplazamiento de aquellos que han conocido a la República Dominicana cómo hogar durante generaciones. Cómo dice la abogada Rosa Iris, “Están aquí, pero no existen”. Con conservadores exigiendo deportaciones, prohibiciones de inmigración o la construcción de muros, el conflicto refleja a los otros países que comparten fronteras, donde la violencia y el racismo van mano a mano. Los ciudadanos que simplemente defienden a los haitianos corren el riesgo de sufrir daños físicos.

Sin embargo, en este peligroso clima, Rosa Iris organiza una campaña, desafiando la corrupción electoral y abogando por la justicia social con su candidatura al congreso. Stephenson traza los complejos afluentes de la historia y la política de hoy,mientras el racismo sancionado por el estado se filtra en oficinas mundanas, reuniones de salón y protestas callejeras.

“Cómo latina negra con guión,” afirma Stephenson, “ me sentí obligada a expresar lo profundamente incrustado que está el sistema de castas raciales en nuestras comunidades Latinx y cómo la identidad y la ciudadanía están tan estrechamente relacionadas con la anti-negro– y sin embargo su discusión escapa o está superficialmente malinterpretada por los medios de comunicación convencionales. Stateless (Apátrida) destaca los temas universales del acceso a la ciudadanía, la migración y el racismo sistémico. En los Estados Unidos, estamos presenciando el desmonte de los inmigrantes y los ciudadanos. Nos enfrentamos a una crisis global de manipulación supremacista blanca de los derechos de los migrantes, la ciudadanía de los derechos de nacimiento y la dignidad humana para los negros y los pardos.”

“Michèle Stephenson es una cineasta talentosa que nunca se pena de abordar problemas difíciles e incómodos en su trabajo. Con Stateless(Apátrida) nos oblicua mirar má allá del blanco y negro a las vastas complejidades del racismo y la identidad que son verdaderamente universales. Estamos orgullosos de asociarnos con ella en esta película muy importante,” dice Erika Dilday, Productora Ejecutiva de POV | Directora Ejecutiva de American Documentary.

Películas con efecto claroscuro, Stateless(Apátrida) utiliza imágenes cultas de cámara para presentar un acercamiento íntimo e íntimo del movimiento nacionalista, las luchas de los dominicanos de ascendencia hatiano que intentan navegar por un sistema diseñado para trabajar contra ellos, y los peligros de la búsqueda de justicia social de Rosa Iris. La película entrelaza esta narrativa con escenas que relatan la leyenda de Moriame, una joven que huye de la violencia brutal. Las escenas, imbuidas de elementos de realismo mágico, son un complemento ingenioso a las realidades de las profundidades violentas y desalentadoras de la opresión institucionalizada que Stateless(Apátrida) saca a la luz.

Michèle Stephenson continúa su larga conexión con POV y PBS con la emisión de Stateless(Apátrida). Es la codirectora, con Joe Brewster, de la innovadora promesa American Promise. POV apoyó el trabajo colaborativo VR de Stephenson con los socios creativos Joe Brewster y Yasmin Elayat of Scatter, The Changing Same: Episode One, The Dilemma, que este año estrenó en New Frontier de Sundance Film Festival y también aparece en el Immersive Program de Tribeca Film Festival del 2021.

Credits

Director/Producer: Michèle Stephenson

Producer: Jennifer Holness

Producer: Lea Marin

Executive Producer: Anita Lee, Joe Brewster, Sudz Sutherland

Executive Producers for POV: Erika Dilday, Justine Nagan and Chris White

Photos

Approved publicity photos available here.

photos

About the Filmmaker

Michèle Stephenson - Director/Producer

As co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, filmmaker, artist, and author Michèle Stephenson draws from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human-rights attorney to tell provocative stories in a variety of media that speak to personal and systemic liberation. Her work has appeared on numerous broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime, and MTV. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys, including Best Documentary and Outstanding Coverage of a Current News Story. The film also won the Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Stephenson was recently awarded the Creative Capital Fellowship and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, as well as the inaugural Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She is also a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her current feature-documentary work in progress is supported by the National Film Board of Canada and the Sundance Documentary Fund. Her community-engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society and a Revere Award nomination from the Association of American Publishers, and she is a fellow of the Skoll Stories of Change initiative. Her recent book, Promises Kept, written with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

About POV

Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise and Minding The Gap and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are broadcast nationally on PBS, POV.org and the PBS Video app.

POV goes beyond the broadcast to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.

POV films and projects have won 42 Emmy Awards, 25 George Foster Peabody Awards, 14 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.

About American Documentary

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Perspective Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, Sage Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.