Subjects: Immigration Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies
“Chèche lavi” is a phrase in Haitian Creole which means “looking for life.”
In this indictment of America’s asylum process, two Haitian migrants find their lives in stasis after their journey through multiple countries stalls at the US-Mexico border in Tijuana. When friends Robens and James are separated, this contemplative look at a bond forged through struggle shifts into a moving exploration of the longing to discover one’s place, and the barriers—both figurative and all too literal—that stand in the way.
Doc NYC 2019 Official Selection and 2019 Rotterdam International Film Festival
“Chèche Lavi‘s importance as a film is about making us feel and empathize about the current immigration crisis, and it is quite effective in doing just that. It gives a face to a problem that we don’t see. It’s a reminder about how lucky we are to have what we have. As well as understand that it’s not so easy to just “go back where you came from.”– Film Threat
“Chèche Lavi is a non-sensationalist portrait of the friendship between two men and how fate directs it. Said Ellison, «This is not a film about success, nor about failure», and that is refreshing.” – Modern Times Review
“A poetic and peaceful paean to Haitians seeking a better life, Sam Ellison gloriously colourful images tell a story we already know but in a zingingly positive and honest way.” – Filmuforia
“James and Robens' fragmentary conversations and comments — sometimes philosophical, sometimes humorous, always shot through with overlapping longings as their aspirations crumble in the face of tough realities — say all that needs to be said.” – The Hollywood Reporter
About the filmmaker
Sam Ellison is a filmmaker whose documentary work focuses on the intercultural peripheries of US power. He is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild, and a constant traveler. His recent films include Distribution (2017), which won the Atlanta Film Festival's honorable mention for short documentary.