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Danny Glover's Toussaint L'Ouverture Film That Never Was, But Could Still Be

by Courtney
July 27, 2012 6:34 PM
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When Tambay spoke to Danny Glover about his long-in-development Toussaint L'Ouverture film last fall, this is what he had to say:

We're still working on it; we're in one of those periods where the idea is still alive and still resonates out there; we just have to get all the resources together to make it happen, and we believe, I believe it's still a signature piece of our company and a piece we want most to happen.

And when asked about the challenges he must have been facing in trying to get a film on this subject matter financed and produced, he laughed and added:

You don't want to hear those stories man... the stories I could write a book on... just on the process of trying to make a film about the Haitian revolution; but the project is still alive.

Of course we're now all familiar with Philippe Niang's French-produced made-for-tv 2-part movie on Toussaint L'Ouverture, starring Jimmy Jean-Louis as the title character (above), and Aïssa Maïga (Paris, Je T'Aime, Bamako) as Toussaint's wife, Suzanne, and Sonia Rolland (Moloch TropicalMidnight In Paris) as Marie-Eugénie Sonthonax, wife of abolitionist L.F. Sonthonax.

Niang's film still hasn't been officially released outside of France, except screenings at international film festivals, so very few have actually seen it which is unfortunate.

My guess is that it'll be released on DVD and VOD eventually. I won't be surprised if it's already online in full or in bits and pieces.

Skip ahead to May of this year, just 2 months ago, and this profile of Danny Glover in the UK Guardian newspaper, which I came across just today, in which Glover reveals some information about his Toussaint project that I thought was worth sharing, if only to help keep hope alive on the project.

The key part of the Guardian profile is this piece:

For more than 30 years, Glover has been trying to make a biopic about the leader of the Haitian revolution. True, the story of L'Ouverture has been told before, notably in a play by CLR James that was staged in London's West End in 1936 starring Paul Robeson, and more recently in a French TV series starring Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis. But Glover believes his treatment will be the first to "have the epic scale these events require".

But when will we see this directorial debut? In 2006, Glover assembled a cast including Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mos Def, and planned to shoot his film in South Africa and Venezuela, thanks to $18m (£11m) from one of Glover's heroes, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.

Six years on, filming has not started. "We'll get the film done," says Glover. "We came so close so many times, you could almost taste it, man. We came that close and we're going to do it."

So we learn here that Glover believes his project will be the first to have "the epic scale" a movie about Toussaint L'Ouverture deserves.

It means then that he's seen Niang's 2-part film and doesn't feel that it has that desired "epic" quality. I haven't been able to see Niang's film, so I can't say. You people who have seen it can chime in on that.

And how about the cast he had assembled for his film, as recently as 2006, that included Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mos Def.

Although I believe Don Cheadle was also part of that cast, and in the starring role, even though the Guardian profile doesn't mention it.

One has to wonder what happened there exactly, when he received $18 million from Hugo Chavez to begin the project in 2006. That was a nice boost, although I'd guess that it probably wasn't enough. 

And despite all the setbacks, Glover still seems determined to get this film made, which is wonderful.

When asked why the project is so important to him, he said:

"Imagine a revolt where all those people who were enslaved and dispossessed in Africa, America and round the world, heard what had happened? You imagine what that meant to them?"

So now you know; as of 2 months ago, the project isn't dead. But it doesn't apear to be a sure-thing either; though he seems committed to seeing it come to fruition, eventually.

One would assume that he'd now be looking at another set of younger actors, since the actors he wanted to use previously are all 6 years older - a figure that could be even higher if another several years go by and the film doesn't get made.

Who would you be looking at to play Toussaint L'Ouverture today?

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  • George | July 22, 2014 6:50 AMReply

    If it's money that he needs, why doesn't reach out to us?

  • Harris Bell | June 23, 2014 10:36 PMReply

    I hope that Danny Glover can complete this film. Raoul Peck would be perfect for Director. His films are awesome! Lumumba and Rains Come In April. The story of the Haitian Revolution is spectactular. There so many stories to tell of Boukmon, L'Overture and Dessalines. This is a one of a kind story that should be told. Problem is that the cast would be 95% Black. That makes producers turn away from subjects like this. People need to know the story behind this one of a kind revolution.

  • Dyonomite Reacher | April 24, 2014 10:02 PMReply

    The Africans in Haiti kicked the French Napoleon butt, you think these racist will let the truth out that it was Black people who stopped Nappy Bonyparts and have you know you have power from God in your hands.

  • AL E. | April 8, 2014 9:44 PMReply

    That was a 6000 sq. ft. House Danny Built in Oregon after he got the Money I'm not Mad at him
    he got to live some where. Just like you got the House built get the Movie done? Come on Man.

  • Al E. | April 8, 2014 9:37 PMReply

    Danny should keep us more informed and reach out for help to get this done It is time after Twelve
    years a Slave, people need to see some People of African Decent Fought back matter of fact a lot
    Africans stood up against Slavery. The Nat Turner story should be next, John Brown haven't
    Been done in Sixty years. I'm tired of Movies with African in servant Movies thaz all Hollywood
    want to do The Help, The Butler, Driving Miss Daisy as i said Twelve years a Slave we are all Tired. Come on Danny you got Thirty Million Dollars from Chavez you done built a 6000 sq. ft.
    where is the move?

  • wave | March 3, 2014 3:34 PMReply

    Not sure to many European colonies what black folk to see that story. L'ouveture was only briefly mentioned when I was in grade school. Don't want us to know about him.

  • L. Joseph | February 27, 2014 5:56 PMReply

    Wow! I can't say that I am surprised that he ran into some snafu's in Hollywood in the making of this film. But, honestly, if I knew how to reach him, I would definitely contribute to this cause because our people need this film.

  • Shabaka Tecumseh | January 27, 2014 5:47 PMReply

    Danny go to the Black community for contributions towards the film.. you have a name I'm hopeful we have enough conscious Black folks that will forgo going to see something like the Butler to send you the cash for your poignant film on Haiti.. Just set up a legitimate site..

  • Jacqueline McGee | January 14, 2014 12:26 AMReply

    He should look into and the like. Why should we keep waiting for a Eurocentric world to support or fund Afrocentric media? We may not *have* millions, but we *are* millions.

  • Mandisa | January 13, 2014 4:01 PMReply

    Jimmie Jean-Louis would be perfect!

  • Melinda Laguerre | February 9, 2014 6:20 PM

    That was so potent and true, not to mention to Hispanic countries that admire Haitians.

  • Beka Shakur | January 13, 2014 3:45 PMReply

    White Supremacy never got over the defeat by Afrikanz. Haiti was forced 2 pay reparations, and was & still is taunted by those sore loserz. They won't fund this project because they still hate that they lost.

  • j | November 30, 2013 2:07 PMReply

    I vote for Eamonn Walker for L'Ouverture and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Henri Christophe!

  • Marie | November 30, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    Eighteen millions from Venezuela, and still more to come! People in Haiti still live under tents and see their children taken abroad for adoption. Aren't there less expensive ways to share history?

  • DarkWomb | November 18, 2013 3:17 PMReply

    I agree Danny take your time Toussaint only deserves the best

  • Claudia | November 13, 2013 7:14 PMReply

    International crowfunding... Africans and proudly Afro-descendants troughout the world would contribute if it was made by an highly professional and passionate team joined by a global known cast, I believe!

  • el guevo | August 30, 2013 9:39 PMReply

    There is an error in this article. The 18 million dollars were not from his hero Hugo Chavez. That was PUBLIC money from MY COUNTRY, which was sadly ruled by that MORON. Thanks

  • Andrea | August 26, 2013 9:39 PMReply

    My question is: then is it true that Hugo Chávez gave 18 million dollars to Glover? Because in Venezuela film agencies deny this fact.

  • Jheison Romain | July 16, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    This film featuring Idris Elba would be great.

  • Romane Simon | June 4, 2013 5:23 AMReply

    this is a movie i would love to see made as i am getting ready to make a film about my family great dad and grandfather who was the former president of haiti who also fought alot of battle to free haiti, as all my family is in politic i am the only one fully into filmmaking, so i am taking the opportunity to have their story told, lets keep our hopes up

  • Moise (m l) | May 20, 2013 12:50 PMReply

    Today its Toussaint Louverture Birth Day

  • m l | May 20, 2013 12:48 PMReply

    I would play Tousssaint He's my HERO

  • Priscilla Coquillon | March 30, 2013 3:08 PMReply

    The movie must be done, and must be seen. This is to much of an important history for Haitians and Black people alike. In my opinion Jimmy Jean-Louis did a fantastic job at playing Toussaint Louverture and should be re-caste for the Box office Movie with Danny Glover. I know this is not an easy task, for Haiti's history has never been easy. But the people are strong and resilient. This will be of great importance to help revive the moral of the country. And for the world to remember "that Haiti was not the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere". In fact it is a powerful country. To Mr. Danny Glover, Please do not lose sight and determination to get this movie done. It will be of great reward in the end. And a lot of people, especially Haitians will be grateful to bringing Haiti's history back to life.

  • Jemi | March 21, 2013 5:22 PMReply

    Was really, really impressed by the work ethic and talent of the young actor, Algenis Perez-Soto, who played SUGAR years ago. If he's kept up his training regimen, and aged a little, he might make an excellent TL.

  • Courage2Believe | January 8, 2013 5:15 PMReply

    I've heard about this movie while I was in college (10 years ago) and it made me proud that our story would be told in the box office. As a Haitian American I could only imagine the excellence that Danny Glover will create.

    No disrespect but Mr. Glover should hire some one such as myself, a closer, to make this movie a reality. As an author, mentor, marketing consultant, and soon movie producer I know a thing or two about producing large projects. I would love to help Mr. Glover bring this play into fruition.

    Follow me on Twitter or support my new book The Courage To Believe dot com.

  • getthesenets | December 30, 2012 4:54 PMReply

    if Glover's film ever gets done.....American actor who may be able to pull it off is Sean Blakemore.

    Doubt that American audience would even support a Nat Turner film, MUCH less a Toussaint L'ouverture film

    django THAT

  • jeanettesdaughters | July 30, 2012 1:00 PMReply

    is lance reddick the guy from the wire, the lieutenant in charge of the unit? him! l'ouverture needs 'gravitas' and he has it. not that all the others named do not or could not but i like him for the role. the others are too predictable onscreen. the fact that he is tall and l'ouverture reportedly was not, should not be a factor. as to what happened to the $18 mil. from chavez, this is really not our business! perhaps it was a pledge so nothing happened to it. it's not in play yet - perhaps. perhaps it is cached somewhere, awaiting matching funds. does anyone know the proposed budget? an epic film would be costly but done right well worth it. globally, it would be a global hit and such a boost to the always under siege people of haiti.

  • Irma P Hall | July 29, 2012 10:08 PMReply

    Danny Glover's dream film on Toussant will be so welcom. It should be made. I have been waiting to see it since he told me about it when we worked on BELOVED together. Danny has such a knowlege about the Hatian history and the casting is so wonderful. I am sure it will be a hit whenever it is finally made. I HOPE IT WILL BE SOON.

  • Soleil | July 29, 2012 8:27 AMReply

    I think the 'epicness' simply relates to it being a feature film for theatrical release versus a made for tv movie. In alot of ways the medium determines the scope and scale so maybe that's all he meant by that statement. Man, we have been waiting forever to see this film. I wish Glover's camp would be a little more open about what the pitfalls are and have been so that perhaps other skilled folks could help fill in the gaps. The film is too important ideologically to let anything hinder it's production, this CANNOT get shelved, so if its a matter of egos, if investors are uncertain that as a director Glover ha the skills to deliver such an epic film, or whatever the real issue may be, maybe its time to come up with a solution that gets the thing MADE.

  • deecreative | July 28, 2012 9:04 PMReply

    For someone to play Toussaint L'Ouverture ...I'm thinking what about Rob Brown or Derek Luke.

  • ALM | July 28, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    @ Courtney: I also wonder what happened to the $18 million. I hope it's behind held until the film can be fully completed.

  • Donella | December 30, 2012 4:15 PM

    Got the following from Wikipedia: "In May 2007, President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez contributed $18 million to fund the production of Toussaint for Glover, who is a prominent U.S. supporter of Chávez. The contribution annoyed some Venezuelan filmmakers, who said the money could have funded other homegrown films and that Glover's film was not even about Venezuela.[9][10] The following June, some Venezuelan filmmakers petitioned for Glover to reconsider using the funds provided by their president while the actor was scouting locations outside the Venezuelan capital Caracas.[11] The petition resulted in the local film guilds Anac and Caveprol being outlawed by Venezuela; the country's state-backed film institute Cnac was also instructed to sever ties with the guild.[12] In April 2008, the Venezuelan National Assembly authorized an additional $9,840,505 for Glover's film, which is still in planning.[13]" So Glover had/has access to $27,840,505 to create Touissant which seems or appears sufficient to begin production.

  • Donella | July 29, 2012 4:23 PM

    That was my first question. What happened to the $18 million? I don't know about Wesley Snipes, but most of the other actors on the list have worked for scale in the past.

  • JESS | July 27, 2012 9:53 PMReply

    I still need to see the non Jimmy Jean version.

  • Jess | July 27, 2012 9:53 PM

    i mean the Jimmy Jean version.

  • Film Luva | July 27, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    Chris Brown, for sure! He has the height, he's limber as all great warriors should be, he's light skinded, and he's so ganxsta

  • D.C. Kirkwood | July 27, 2012 7:05 PMReply

    I would personally like to see Malik Yoba and Mekhi Phifer be given a chance at this role to show their range. I think they are underused in Hollywood. Of course Idris Elba would be good, but I also think Lance Reddick from the show "Fringe" would do the role justice.

  • Suz | July 28, 2012 6:03 PM

    Malik Yoba??? I think not. Though I like Idris, he is in everything now. Time for someone new. I actually think Lance Reddick would be a good choice. I think he did the film "Tennessee" with Mariah. He showed his range in it.

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