Five-time Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola has joined Freda, the Haitian Oscar entry marking the narrative feature debut of actor, singer and documentarian Gessica Généus, as an executive producer.
The Creole-language film centers on a character of the same name 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.
Freda made its world premiere in the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival 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, on the heels of Guetty Felin’s 2016 drama Ayiti Mon Amour. Néhémie Bastien, Djanaïna François, Fabiola Rémy, Gaëlle Bien-Aimé, Jean Jean, Rolaphton Mercure, and Cantave Kerven star in the pic, which was produced by Ayizan Productions’ Généus, SaNoSi Productions’ Jean-Marie Gigon and Merveilles Production’s Faissol Gnonlonfin. SaNoSi Productions is handling the film’s international sales rights, with Nour Productions distributing it in France, Belgium, and Switzerland.
“‘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 which looks to educate youths in the cinematic arts, and to empower the country’s film and music industries, both at the national level and on the international stage. The renowned filmmaker was among the organization’s original donors when its Ciné Institute film school first opened in 2008, and has remained committed to supporting it annually, ever since.
Up next for the director behind such classics as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now is Megalopolis, a sci-fi epic centered on an architect who looks to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.