Big Screen TV Movies, Reviews & Behind the Scenes!
The Sweetest Girl - A Forbidden Love Story...
"A story of love, secrets, and redemption that's breaking cultural boundaries" by Lakesha Woods | Published May 23, 2021
"A story of love, secrets, and redemption that's breaking cultural boundaries" by Lakesha Woods | Published May 23, 2021
Pictured above are lead actors Sandra Justice and Genji Jacques
A private movie premiere for The Sweetest Girl - A Forbidden Love Story was held on April 30, 2021. I had the pleasure of viewing the movie on behalf of Enjoy Life Magazine. I will never forget the viewers' reactions and awe-inspiring dialogue that took place afterward. What can I say about this movie? It was intense! A roller coaster of emotions, and just when it appeared that we would come off the high, we were left in mid-air dangling from a cliff. Yes, there is a cliffhanger!
Lead actor Genji Jacques plays the role of Lucias Goodman, a husband who has a life-altering secret that he has been keeping from his wife. His wife of 25 years Margaret, (played by Sandra Justice), is a passionate journalist who covers Haitian politics. She has plans to expose money laundering rings and mass corruption. Margaret and Lucias kick off the opening scene in a heated argument that stems from Margaret confronting Lucias. She has a gut instinct that Lucias is hiding something from her. Goodman quickly diverts her accusations and begins to urge his wife to stay away from Haitian politics. As the saying goes - the plot thickens! Before I dive into my interview with co-screenwriter and producer Yanatha Desouvre, I would like to share my previous views of Haitians. Misconceptions are why representation is so important and why this film should be seen around the world and talked about in unfamiliar spaces.
As a black girl growing up in South Florida during the '80s and '90s, I can't say that I remember learning much about Haitian culture. Sure, by the time I was in high school, I had a few Haitian friends that migrated from New York, but I didn't know too many Haitians that came directly from Haiti. The few Haitian friends that I had didn't come to my neighborhood - Carver Ranches, to hang out with me, and I didn't go to their homes in Miramar or Pembroke Pines to hang out with them. Our interactions were limited to school. Most of the time, that decision was made because of cultural differences and lack of knowledge. I can't ever remember being told anything positive about Haitian people. I grew up thinking that Haitians were poor and cursed, or if you crossed a Haitian (mainly the Haitian women), they would put a voodoo spell on you. Ignorant – right? Yes, very ignorant thinking, but this is my truth. The media played a large part in socializing our behavior and views towards Haitians.
Here's what I do remember clearly. I remember the news taking every opportunity to depict Haitians or their culture at their worst. The media caused many people to fear Haitians for one reason or another. This is why I am ecstatic about being able to share this review and what I've witnessed from the sidelines. I've seen them bring this story from the script to the screen during the height of a pandemic! They stood together and made it happen.
As I grew older, my views of Haitian people changed through conversation, education, and positive interaction, and now from witnessing this team deliver an award-winning film. The Sweetest Girl - A Forbidden Love Story gives the viewers insight into the challenges of a loving Haitian couple and their culture from both the past and present day. Since our initial interview, the short film was included in the South Florida International Film Festival and won Best Picture Film in the Black or African category for short films. It is also an award-winning short film at the New York Independent Cinema Awards.
So, what more can I say about the movie? Well, I will say this much: extraordinary entertainment leaves you feeling like you were a part of it – whatever it was: the band, the cast, the crew, the scene, the culture. I walked away feeling Haitian! When the last scene ended, I felt like I was still there – in that moment. I wanted more, I had questions, and I felt emotional. I felt proud of MY people. The Sweetest Girl - A Forbidden Love Story is a phenomenal work of art created and delivered by a talented group of people. Please read below to get some behind-the-scenes insight from the co-screenwriter and producer Yanatha Desouvre.
Insight from the Co-Screenwriter & Producer...
Lakesha: The Sweetest Girl – A Forbidden Love Story, is inspired by actual events. Please tell us why it was so important to recapture the details of this story on film.
Yanatha: Thank you for the question. Inspired by the tragic death of my late aunt Micheline Coulanges, who was a victim of gun violence in Haiti, in 1996, The Sweetest Girl is not only deeply personal to me and my heritage, but expresses universal and transcendent themes of love, hope and redemption.
Lakesha: Who was your favorite character in the movie? Why?
Yanatha: That is a difficult question. As a writer all of my characters are like my children. All of the characters have a little bit of their characteristic from me and those whom I love so to me all of the characters are my favorite.
Lakesha: What were your thoughts as you moved closer to post-production?
Yanatha: My thoughts, as our movie moved closer to post production, was could we raised the funds for post-production and be ready in time for Black History month when we hope to go on a virtual private screening tour. We were able to get the funding to get to cover the cost of our awesome editor and great composers, but we need to cover the cost of our colorist and sound editor.
Lakesha: What was your initial reaction after you finished watching the completed film for the first time?
Yanatha: After watching the early versions of The Sweetest Girl, I was proud of what everyone from the cast and crew did. We shot this in the middle of pandemic. It took a lot of effort, blood sweat and tears. My initial was wow, we did it ya'll and we are just getting started.
Lakesha: The Sweetest Girl is now a SAG film. Tell us what SAG is and what exactly does it mean to be a SAG film.
Yanatha: SAG is the Screen Actor Guild, SAG-AFTRA brings together two great American labor unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. What it means to be a SAG-AFTRA signatory film is that we did everything by the book, every performer contract was handled with extreme professionalism.
Lakesha: When will it be released to the public, where can we view it, where can we follow online?
Yanatha: That is a great question. We are planning to complete our short film by February 2021 for Black History. We plan to have private virtual screenings at libraries, colleges, universities, museums, etc. next year. We plan to submit our short film to specific Oscar qualifying film festival and committed to raised funds to either turn our short film from the Goodman Chronicles series to a series of full-length feature films. Harry J. Jeudy, (Executive Producer, co-screenwriter) Samuel Ladouceur (Director) and I are currently work on our first length feature titled Flatbush. It’s about the unforgiving streets of 1990s Brooklyn, New York. Harold, a determined, Haitian- American teenager, was caught between two worlds, survival and loyalty. In the city of dreams, Harold and his crew’s activities lead to nightmares in the criminal underworld, that puts their lives in danger, forcing them to find unconventional ways to survive by any means necessary. Enjoy Life Magazine we are so grateful for having us.
Raaj Rahhi - Director and Producer of OASS
Lakesha: Why did you decide to become a film director and producer?
Raaj: During my college days I wanted to be a film maker. As my parents wanted me to become a doctor. I_got admission in medical college After that I am medical college dropout turned Journalist and started my career as film critics. After that I decided to focus on films and television production. After working for numerous movies decided to promote independent cinema because it gives opportunity to fresh talent and ideas.
Lakesha: Was there anyone who mentored you or gave you help to pursue your career?
Raaj: I’m a self-made man. The journey has been inspiring and there are many people from inside and outside the industry who have mentored and inspired me from time to time and I’m lucky to have found such people. Started my career from Bollywood and worked with many International productions. During my film career journey I travel to Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Australia, New Zealand and many mores.
Lakesha:: Please tell us about some of your previous work?
Raaj: I have 20 years of experience in television and movie making and I can tell that amongst the variety of works that I have done for films and television; I enjoy my work as a producer and director. I’ve worked for more than a dozen companies like Multivision Plus, Parkit Films, Jackie Chen Production House, Zee TV and Star International Network, Time-Warner Brothers, HBO, and many more. It has given me the opportunity to meet fresh talent and work on new ideas. I produced more then 15 international films in different languages. I directed five independent films like Shut up! Silent Whisper, Beyond Life, Black Home, Access to Bollywood (Documentary) and Oass.
Lakesha:: Tell us about the movie “OASS”, and what issues are brought to the surface in this film?
Lakesha:: Why were you compelled to produce the movie Oass?
Raaj: The first time I met the director Abh, he was a young guy with this story line. I decided that I wanted to share their experiences with the world. I knew that their pain and trauma could never be erased, but their stories could help us by shocking and sensitizing people to the menace of human trafficking which has spread its tentacles all across the globe.
Lakesha: What is the process for getting the movie Oass released in theaters in the states?
Raaj: As a Media/Distribution Consultant and Filmmaker I have knowledge about international distribution. We are working on our distribution strategy for the film. Hope we will release the film worldwide during the first quarter of 2014.
Lakesha: Are you working on any new projects?
Raaj: I’m currently working on a couple of projects in the U.S. and other parts of world. Our upcoming films are Purple America, Black Home (it’s a political conspiracy based on a true story), The Scare and some international foreign language films. I am also developing one project with Hollywood Actor and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.
Lakesha:: What types of movies do you enjoy working on the most?
continued below ...
Lakesha: Please tell us where we can find you or True Cinema online.
Raaj: I’m the president for U.S
operations, you can find true cinema at www.true-cinema.com My other company is 3 Dimension Films it focuses on production and distribution of
independent films worldwide. Besides this as a Media/Distribution Consultant and Film Maker I am also a South Asian
Regional partner with International Grammy Awards, member of International
Producers, Film Makers and Distributor associations and an Executive member of
International Documentary Association.
Lakesha: Thank you again for us the opportunity to feature you! Please keep us posted on the developments of your new films and the U.S. release of “OASS”.
Enjoy Life: Tell us about some of your recent projects.
Elijah: Recent projects, I just did a short film for the American Black Film Festival called “Welcome to Miami”. It was submitted in a competition for the Youth in Overtown.
Enjoy Life: With “Welcome to Miami” it seemed to be a cliff hanger at the end of the film is there going to be a follow up to that?
Elijah: Um, yes, I’m making a part two called “Battle of the Arts”. It will be about an annual battle between schools.
Elijah: I don’t want to be known as just a filmmaker. I’m actually working on this play too. I want to be known as many things ... I want to do many genres: films, plays, commercials ...
Enjoy Life: What inspired you to become a writer and filmmaker?
Elijah: Many things inspired me, when I was very young my mother ...
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