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LACS Film Series: Elena

Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Director Michèle Stephenson’s documentary follows Elena and her family through their despair and small joys, as they struggle to remain in the country they’ve called home for generations. In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, on the basis of anti-black racism. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929, rendering more than 200,000 people stateless. 

Elena, the film's young protagonist, and her family stand to lose their legal residency in the Dominican Republic if they don’t get their documents in time. Negotiating a mountain of opaque bureaucratic processes and a racist, hostile society, Elena becomes the face of the struggle to remain in a country built on the labor of her father and forefathers. 


Pizza will be served.

About the Film Director

Filmmaker, artist, and author, Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Haitian and Panamanian roots to think radically about storytelling and disrupt the imaginary in non-fiction spaces. She tells emotionally driven personal stories of resistance and identity that are created by, for, and about communities of color and the Black diaspora. Her stories intentionally reimagine and provoke thought about how we engage with and dismantle the internalized impact of systems of oppression. She draws on fiction, immersive and hybrid forms of storytelling to build her worlds and narratives.

Her feature documentary American Promise was nominated for three Emmys and won the Jury Prize at Sundance. Her current documentary Stateless has been nominated for a Canadian Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Most recently, Stephenson collaborated as co-director on the magical realist immersive series on racial terror, The Changing Same, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontiers and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival 2021. Along with her writing partners Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, Stephenson won an NAACP Image Award for Excellence in a Literary Work for their book Promises Kept.  

She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, a Guggenheim Artist Fellow, and a Creative Capital Artist.


We are happy to credit Kanopy for using the film, Elena, including its title and film image, on our website and for promotional posters across campus.

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