ZANJ HEGEL LA

(HEGEL’S ANGEL)

ZANJ HEGEL LA (HEGEL’S ANGEL) film poster

Inspired by southern Haiti’s Vodou and Kanaval cosmologies, and co-written with the entire cast and crew, Zanj Hegel La (Hegel’s Angel), is a cinematic fable challenging the boundaries between collaborative ethnography, fiction and reverie. The film follows an inquisitive boy named Widley whose life, suspended between mundane activities and foreign myths, unfolds away from the turmoil of an upcoming presidential election. As the boy wanders through an evanescent countryside, running errands for his father and paying furtive visits to a local film editor, his searching eyes become a mirror for the exotic new spell sweeping his people from one empire to another.

Simone Rapisarda Casanova

Haiti/Canada/USA/Italy, 2018

70 min, Colour, Stereo

“Tropes on the absurdity of auteur theory [...] Deploys an aesthetics of allegory without ever succumbing to the ideological telos of allegory.”

‑Peter Dickinson (Anthropologica)


“Masterful [...] A richly lyrical portrait of the denizens of contemporary Haiti and their complex relationship to the outside world [...] Provocatively combines fiction and non-fiction filmmaking techniques.”

‑Michael G. Smith (White City Cinema)


“A clever meta-commentary on encroaching modernity and the impact of cultural imperialism [...] A generous, richly layered work of cinematic self-awareness.”

‑Shaun Inouye (The Cinematheque)


“Succeeds in raising questions about how one might portray a culture that is not their own [...] Allows its viewers to rethink stereotypes about Haiti and its people.”

‑Paige Smith (SAD Mag)


“Thought provoking [...] Inspiring us to imagine new possibilities that may be realized by transgressing conventional boundaries between fiction and ethnography.”

‑Dara Culhane (CIE)


“Not only does the film confront history and memory, but its structure also radicalizes ethnographic conventions and formality of linear storytelling.”

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“Pioneering new forms of collaborative dialogue, exchange and co-authorship that are breaking new ground and helping redefine practices of co-creation. Significantly, [this film] speak in particular to the struggles of access, privilege and hierarchy which are so central to our current debates concerning the decolonization of cinema. I argue that [the director’s] democratizing and decentring models of creation are making significant contributions to debates about authorship and privilege.”

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“A commitment to community-authored filmmaking, places [the director] and his work at the forefront of a new, non-extractive storytelling.”

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Awards and honours

2020    Best in Show Award for Documentary, Best Direction & Acting Award for Documentary, Best 

                      Cinematography Award for Documentary, Best Audio/Music/Soundtrack Award for 

                      Documentary, Colorado International Activism Film Festival, Denver, CO, USA

            Golden Dragon Award - Experimental Film, Druk International Film Festival, Paro, Bhutan

            Best Fiction Feature Award, Genova Flight International Film Festival, Genova, Italy

            Nominee, Best Experimental Film Award, International Film Festival Cologne, Cologne, Germany

2019    Best Feature Film Award, Collected Voices Ethnographic Film Festival, Chicago, IL, USA

            Best Indigenous African Feature Award, Quetzalcoatl Indigenous International Film Festival, Oaxaca, Mexico

            Best Narrative Feature Award, Etowah Film Festival, Canton, OH, USA

            Best Documentary Award, Cinergo International Film Festival, Athens, Greece

            Best Feature Film: Platinum Award, Mindfield Film Festival, Albuquerque, NM, USA

            Nominee, Best Feature Documentary Award, Glendale International Film Festival, Glendale, CA, USA

2018    Best Experimental Film Award, Falcon International Film Festival, London, UK


Screenings (selected)

2021    Coal City Film Festival, Enugu, Nigeria

2020    Genova Flight International Film Festival, Genova, Italy

            International Film Festival Cologne, Cologne, Germany

            Onirica Film Festival, La Spezia, Italy

            Castellabate Film Festival, Castellabate, Italy

            Colorado International Activism Film Festival, Denver, CO, USA

            Puglia International Film Festival, Bari, Italy

2019    Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival, Vancouver, Canada

            Balneário Camboriú International Film Festival, Balneário Camboriú, Brazil

            Collected Voices Ethnographic Film Festival, Chicago, IL, USA

            Glendale International Film Festival, Glendale, CA, USA

            Wallachia International Film Festival, Bucharest, Romania

            Split Film Festival - International Festival of New Film, Split, Croatia

            Ciudad del Este Independent Film Festival, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

            Kadoma International Film Festival, Osaka, Japan

            Druk International Film Festival, Paro, Bhutan

            Brighton Rocks Film Festival, Brighton, UK

            Quetzalcoatl Indigenous International Film Festival, Oaxaca, Mexico

            Cinergo International Film Festival, Athens, Greece

            Realtime International Film Festival, Lagos, Nigeria

            Festival Nouvelles Vues Haïti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

            Etowah Film Festival, Canton, OH, USA

            National Black Film Festival, Houston, TX, USA

            Cannes International Pan-African Film Festival, Cannes, France

            Tupelo Film Festival, Tupelo, MS, USA

            Festival de Largos y Cortos de Santiago, Santiago, Chile

            Darbhanga International Film Festival, Darbhanga, India

2018    Falcon International Film Festival, London, UK

            Franklin International Independent Film Festival, Franklin, TN, USA

            Docs Without Borders Film Festival, Nassau, NY, USA

            Syracuse International Film Festival, Syracuse, NY, USA

            The Bioscope Global Film Festival, New Delhi, India

            South Film and Arts Academy Festival, Rancagua, Chile

            Miami Independent Film Festival, Miami, FL, USA

            Five Continents International Film Festival, Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela