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A film by Elisee Junior St Preux
The Tropic Sun and His Eyes
The Tropic Sun and His Eyes tells the story of a young man named Ruben, who after being estranged from his father for over a decade, travels to Haiti to visit his father on his deathbed. When Ruben arrives, he becomes overwhelmed by memory—the lush and entangled land, the vibrant and chaotic streets, and most of all, the fraught and complicated relationship with his father. These sensations trigger his anxiety and depression in a way that makes the world around him feel surreal and often unrecognizable, loosening his grip on reality and control.
This film is a love letter to those who long for connection
The Tropic Sun and His Eyes will be filmed on location in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti
We thank Hope Givers GA for believing in the project and fiscally sponsoring the film. They share our ground-floor approach to storytelling, and we are excited to work with them on bringing this story to life. We would love to have your support too. Please consider donating to the project and being part of our Tropic Sun community.
A Haitian Father-and-Son Story
We rarely get to hear our fathers say “I love you”, and we rarely have the confidence to say it to them. In this film, we imagine a world of transparency and vulnerability. The vast majority of men believe that the primary role of the father is to provide financial support for the family and to endorse the concept of male dominance. But many times, the son just wants to be loved. There is more to this relationship than manly deeds, and we should be able to explore it out loud.
Haiti Meets Mental Health
In this story, we depict what it looks like to face your trauma head-on and what it feels like to be free of it. The film moves like silk as we walk through the stages of depression and anxiety that our protagonist faces. The audience will experience a roller coaster of emotions that transitions from jubilant to bleak in a matter of seconds. Everything is natural and grounded. My team and I are not interested in showing Haitian caricatures for entertainment purposes. In other words, this is not the version of Haiti the media portrays. We are interested in showing Haitians simply as humans.
We use surrealism to show how Ruben longs to emotionally connect to his father. We use fantastical imagination to render the highest form of nostalgia as the street kid exudes the exhilaration and purity of a child. We intentionally play with the notion of what is real and what is in the mind of our protagonist Ruben, to enhance the spiritual aura of the film. The version of Haiti we explore is a mixture of the one my people know and love, and the one we hope it
Haiti Meets Surrealism
Never again will I let my emotions control me
Media from our Location Scout
In June 2023, our team traveled to Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, and scouted the land. We analyzed the terrain, strategized logistics, and evaluated sites for every scene. We spent time with locals and built relationships with artists, entrepreneurs, and officials.. Most importantly, we connected with Haiti on a deeper level for our film and ourselves.
Elisee Junior St Preux/
Elisee Junior St Preux is a Haitian-American Filmmaker born in Miami, FL. A self-taught artist and pure cinephile,
Elisee is the owner of the multimedia company "À La MODE Films", which uses storytelling to uplift the Black
community on and off the screen.
Elisee is a Hillman Grad Rising Voices fellow, a 53rd NAACP Image Awards nominee, a Sundance Ignite Finalist, an
ABFF HBO Short Film Award recipient, an NBAF Emerging Artist Horizon Award recipient, and a Netflix "Created By"
Fellow where he currently holds a script development deal to pen an original feature film with the studio.
Elisee is an Advisory Board member of the Morehouse Human Rights Film Festival, a brass musician, and a mental
health advocate. With a distinct style of vintage storytelling combined with modern cinema, Elisee's solemn goal is
to bear witness and share stories that reflect today, honor the past, and reimagine the future.
Gabriela Díaz Arp/
Gabriela Díaz Arp is a filmmaker whose work pushes the boundaries and form of documentary and fiction to better
understand the complexities of being human.
She recently produced the feature documentary, Twenty, which premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival and
chronicles how 2020 transformed a group of artists and activists in Atlanta.
She also produced two shorts through Indeed’s Rising Voices Program, which premiered at the Tribeca Film
Festival and went on to be screened in theaters across the country and on Amazon. She is also currently
producing and directing her first feature film, Matininó, which follows a multigenerational family of Puerto Rican
women who are exploring their relationship to violence and misogyny as they write and star in a science fiction film.
Her work has been supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund, Film Independent, Doc Society, Topic, Doc
NYC, BAVC, Studio IX, Points North Institute and Adobe.
Cultural & Creative Advisor
Martina Joissaint is distinguished cultural consultant, translator, and logistical coordinator. As a native Haitian speaker with profound cultural insights, Martina infuses films with the very essence of Haiti.
Martina is no stranger to the world of communication and marketing. With a Master's in Global Strategic Communication from Florida International University, she has not only mastered the art of effective communication but also brought it to life through marketing initiatives in a variety of corporate settings.
What sets Martina apart is her unwavering dedication to cultural inclusivity. Her extensive knowledge of Haitian culture is not confined to academic prowess; it is a deep-seated passion that she brings to life through every project. She is committed to sharing the beauty and richness of Haitian culture with a global audience, and her work is the cornerstone of this commitment.
Dawit Z. Adera/
Director of Photography
Dawit Adera, a cinematographer born and raised in Ethiopia, has loved storytelling from an early age.
He began making documentary and narrative films as a young adult and since then he has had works recognized in prominent film festivals including finalist on one of the top cinematographer festival Camera image.
Dawit is now based in the Los Angeles area and graduated from American Film Institute with an MFA in cinematography. Dawit has a passion for making meaningful films with thought-provoking endings.
Dads are like trees. You look up to them no matter how tall you grow. They're the sun in our familial sky.
Ruben, a 26-year-old suffocated by his depression and anxiety, returns home to Haiti to reconnect with his
estranged father on his deathbed. The moment Ruben arrives on land, he is spiritually confronted by the presence
of his father and struggles to navigate the country he no longer knows.
As Ruben makes his way to his father’s house in the mountains on foot, he gets bombarded by a group of street
kids who demand money for their impromptu music performance. Ruben’s aloof instinct brushes them off, but one
curious kid holding a camcorder (Young Boy), sneaks away from the group and follows Ruben. The Young Boy
insists on accompanying Ruben even though Ruben repeatedly dismisses him. When Ruben notices that he
cannot get rid of the Young Boy, they make a deal. The Young Boy can tag along as long as he navigates the
unfamiliar parts of the terrain, leads the shortcut routes, keeps quiet, and stays six feet away from Ruben at all
Despite Ruben’s demands, the Young Boy continues to talk his head off. The Young Boy wants to connect with
Ruben on a familial level, but Ruben’s trauma toward family prevents Ruben from being vulnerable to him.
The deeper they get on their journey, the more Ruben begins to spiral in his anxiety. He continues to see visions of
his father and begins to lose his grip on reality. The Young Boy wants to help, but he is not accustomed to this
intense expression of emotions and does not know where to even begin. This contrast puts a strain on Ruben and
the Young Boy’s relationship, but the more they open up to each other, the more they learn about themselves and
the longings they share. The Young Boy’s youthfulness inspires Ruben to embrace his radical imagination that
ignites his healing journey. On the other hand, Ruben’s determination to reconnect with his father, despite the pain
it causes him, gives the Young Boy hope that one day he will find his own family.
Collectively, their memories coincide, creating visions and models of what they would like their family to become. As
they interact with locals along the way and hear their stories of joy and pain, it becomes more apparent that they
must love out loud and break generational trauma together. With this new mentality, their spiritual awareness shifts
from a dark cloud to a positive orb that guides them both toward home.
In the end, the Young Boy finds an unlikely and chosen family at a community center for street kids where he finds
love and a future for himself. Ruben, on the other hand, arrives at his father’s house as a new man who is almost
unrecognizable to his family. He connects with his aunts and uncles before coming face to face with his father.
When he finally sees his father for the first time, Ruben and his father do not say a word to each other. There is
tension in his father’s eyes, but Ruben's eyes lead with love. “It’s alright to look at me”, Ruben warmly tells his
father. His father locks eyes with Ruben, and with this look alone, nothing else in the world matters but their love for
each other. There is a sense of freedom that exudes from them and welcomes tranquility. Soon, the men melt into
each other's arms and a cacophony of memories, emotions, and longings simultaneously ignite and extinguish in a
single, long overdue embrace.
Building a Filmmaking Ecosystem in Haiti
Our goal is to celebrate Haitian Filmmakers through hands-on opportunities, mentorship, and tangible resources. We plan to hire local creatives throughout the land as talent, crew, and even apprentices to gain on-set experience from this film. We hope this production will inspire artists in Haiti to use their voice and create their own films. We will be working with creatives as young as 8yrs old. Our resources are their resources. We are excited to grow with these storytellers and cultivate lifelong friendships!
Artists in Haiti You Should Know!
The Sun represents the light we dream of. His Eyes represent the light we have.
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