It is the humble opinion of this reviewer that first time director Ben Patterson has a big hit on his hands with his documentary Sweet Micky for President. Here’s the story: following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the government was ineffective in its rebuilding of the country, largely due to corruption. With an election approaching, Haitian American musician Pras Michel (formerly of The Fugees) knew that a change needed to be made, and felt that his friend Michel Martelly was the man for the job. Martelly also went by ‘Sweet Micky’ and happened to be one of Haiti’s biggest pop stars, known for hijinks such as wearing belly tops and diapers on stage. Martelly went for the idea and Pras became his right hand man in getting the campaign launched. The story takes many twists and turns and ends up involving several high profile Americans such as Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and the Clintons, but things get really weird when Pras’ old bandmate Wyclef Jean decides to run for president of Haiti as well.
This may not be the most entertaining election of all time, but the film makes certainly makes it feel that way. The story plays out more like a humorous adventure than a political documentary. It’s surprising that these events didn’t get more attention in North America as they unfolded, but that works to the advantages of the film. This is a rare case where it actually pays to be ignorant, as every plot point brings with it pleasant surprises.
There’s never a dull moment in this fast paced film that combines great footage, cool graphics and a fun soundtrack to make one of those rare documentaries with big commercial potential. Most documentary filmmakers are lucky to find one charismatic subject, the story Patterson stumbled upon contains several and proves that the truth is often truly stranger than fiction.
All that’s lacking is more of an explanation of what makes Sweet Micky qualified for the job. We know he’s liked by the masses and often wrote politically charged lyrics that criticized those in power, but does that make someone fit to run a country? It’s more about if he could be President than if he should be President.
Screens Saturday, Jan 24, 5:30pm and Thursday, Jan 29, 6:10pm
BONUS: We filmed the Q and A following the Slamdance premiere screening where Pras and Patterson shared some good anecdotes.
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