Filmmaker Rediscovers Haitian Roots In Quest For 'The Good Life'

Apr 20, 2015

Credit SoulFood Films

Like many cinematic love stories, Rachelle Salnave’s romance begins with an intense dislike bordering on hatred.

As a kid, the 40-year-old filmmaker explains in her self-narrated documentary, she didn’t want anyone knowing she was Haitian, owing to the negative media portrayals of people from the Caribbean country.

“They called us boat people!” Salnave exclaims. “The media constantly portrayed Haiti’s poverty, and the CDC even listed Haiti as the origin of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

La Belle Vie: The Good Life - Official Trailer from Rachelle Salnave on Vimeo.

To Salnave’s mind, there were two Haitis: the impoverished, desperate one she saw in popular culture and the elusive one she caught a glimpse of in her mother’s meticulously kept photo albums. The photographs – of European trips, elegant cocktail parties, her mother’s years in a French boarding school – speak clearly of the privileged life her parents left behind when they moved to the United States in the 1960s.

Salnave’s effort to reconcile those two worlds is at the core of her film “La Belle Vie: The Good Life,” screening throughout South Florida this week. Within the context of a search for her cultural identity, Salnave discovers a Haiti struggling with dramatically different definitions of what constitutes “the good life.”


O Cinema 
Tues. April 21 6:30 p.m.
90 NW 29 St., Miami FL  

FIU (South Campus) 
Thu. April 23 6:30 p.m.
1120 SW 8 St., Rm 150 Miami, FL

Little Haiti Cultural Center
Fri. April 24  7 p.m.
212 NE 59 Terrace, Miami, FL

Lake Worth Playhouse 
Sat., April 25  7 p.m.
713 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 

African American Research Library 
Sat. May 2  2 p.m.
2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL