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The Agronomist
The Agronomist
Actors: Jean Dominique, Aboudja, Ronald Reagan
Director: Jonathan Demme
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
PG-13     2005     1hr 30min

The life of Haitian radio journalist and human rights activist, Jean Dominique, told through historical footage of Haiti; interviews with Dominique and his wife, Michele Montas; and footage shot before his assassination in...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jean Dominique, Aboudja, Ronald Reagan
Director: Jonathan Demme
Creators: Aboudja, Bevin McNamara, Jonathan Demme, Peter Saraf, Lizzie Gelber, Edwidge Danticat
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Biography
Studio: New Line Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/07/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Christine A. (WriteReviseEdit) from ROCHESTER, NY
Reviewed on 1/27/2013...
I can't imagine NOT giving this film a 5-star rating...

The quality of the some of the video images isn't stellar, I'll give you that; but, it doesn't take long to see past that and it's precisely what makes this documentary enormously stirring and personal. After all, you get to see Jean Dominique live and captured on video with his characteristic fire and enthusiasm - the whole way through. If anything, there were times I wasn't 100% convinced musical accompaniment was necessary, but it wasn't so distracting as to ruin my experience of the film.

Additionally, the film is directed by Jonathan Demme who, according to the liner notes, first met and filmed Dominique in 1986. Because I'm not accustomed to thinking of Demme as a documentary film maker, I found this intriguing. The film is a must see for anyone - but may be especially enlightening for the youngest Boomers (Gen Xers) who were aware something was going on in Haiti in the '80s/'90s but didn't understand it then and now have the perspective, sense of humanity and experience needed to fully appreciate the efforts of Jean Dominique, his wife, their radio crew and the Haitians they spoke to/for.

Thanks, SwapaDVD, for turning me on to it!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Inspiring film about an inspirational man
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 06/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)


Jonathan Demme's "The Agronomist" is a documentary about Jean Dominique, the Haitian civil rights leader and radio journalist who was gunned down by unknown assassins on April 3, 2000. A passionate believer in a free and open press, Dominique founded Radio Haiti in the early 1960's and became know as the "voice of the people" for over four decades of that nation's turbulent, strife-torn history. Through a succession of coups and counter-coups that seemed to forever rock the country, Dominique remained committed to securing freedom for the citizens of his beloved island nation, even if that meant having to do so as a frequent political exile living in the United States. That his own life ended tragically - as is so often the case when brave individuals step out to try to make the world a better place - is of less importance than that people of goodwill pick up the banner and carry forth his message of social justice and equality for all people. Demme has done just that by putting together this inspiring and thought provoking documentary.

In constructing his film, Demme has chosen to rely primarily on the many interviews Dominique gave over the course of his lifetime. Thus, even though Dominique is dead, we are able to hear his story in his own words, a distinct advantage for those of us who knew little or nothing about the man and what he accomplished prior to our seeing this movie. We learn firsthand of all the dreams and fears, hopes and disappointments that came to define this one individual who truly made a difference in his world. In addition to these interviews, Demme also provides insights from Dominique's supportive wife and family as well as from some of the common folk in Haiti who were inspired by Dominique's vision.

As the movie unfolds, Demme provides us with a well-delineated history of Haiti in the last half century, showing us the political turmoil and human suffering that have, sadly, come to define life in that benighted country. This includes the installation and overthrow of both Duvalier regimes ("Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc"), the election then overthrow of Aristide by the forces of Cedras, then the return to power of Aristide at the hands of an international force led by the United States. The saddest part of the movie comes near the end with the realization that, even with a democratically elected government in place, life has not become appreciably better for the average Haitian, for the violence, suppression and government corruption seem as intense today as at any time in Haiti's past.

Still, despite these many setbacks, Dominique's vision of a world where every person is free to speak his mind without fear continues to flourish in the hearts of men and women everywhere. This film is a tribute to that spirit."
Expressive and engaging
PolarisDiB | Southwest, USA | 12/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"From Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, The Manchurian Candidate remake) comes this documentary about Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio journalist and human rights activist who, from 1960 to his assassination in 2000, spoke out against the violence and dictatorships in Haiti, often resulting in his exile.

The documentary spends a lot of time on Dominique's face, which usually might be a bit tedious except that Jean Dominique himself has quite an expressive and engaging face. When he talks, his smiles, glances, and movements are really very absorbing, and the man was a very interesting and wise person. It's almost odd to imagine someone like him arising out of the ashes of such a tumultuous country as Haiti.

Haiti itself strikes an interesting character, being as it were one rife with violence and turmoil. This documentary analyzes the forty years Dominique experienced from behind a microphone and shows not only the personal tension, but the geopolitical issues (let's just say this movie isn't very nice to people like Presidents Reagan and Clinton).

The first part of the movie itself is most important because it spends time showing the absolute need for media in order to maintain human rights. It's difficult to watch because it shows how much we take our media for granted and how shortsighted our media really are. While we bother our comfortable heads with issues of "objectively" representing "everyone's needs", some people are struggling to make sure their voice is heard and getting killed over it. Maybe it's a good thing we have nothing really to talk about, because it shows we're not in these people's situations.

Anyways, a very powerful and inspiring documentary indeed, and one that's pretty well done despite the poor video quality. The background music and the focus on Jean Dominique's face make it very comfortable and friendly even as he's helping to reveal the issues he had to deal with. It's very good.

Worth seeing!
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Jean Dominique contributed a lot to our country's history and its view of the press. Though an obvious ulterior agenda motivated this documentary it nontheless told the story of a very admired and possible leader of Haiti if were ever interested. I just wished it pushed further into rumored "lavalas" involvement in this man's death...maybe that's just not important. It's just sad that only half of this story was told...SEE IT SO YOU CAN JUDGE FOR YOURSELF."