The documentary Aristide And The Endless Revolution features several comments by professor Noam Chomsky, which is appropriate, since this is exactly the kind of movie that the notorious contrarian Chomsky would support: a sober account of governmental misadventures largely ignored by the mainstream media. Director Nicolas Rossier seeks to untangle the messy ends to Jean-Bertrand Aristide's three terms as the freely elected president of Haiti. Aristide served in 1991, from '94 to '96, and from 2001 to '04, and in two out of three cases, he was unseated by coup. The last time, in 2004, Aristide claims U.S. agents kidnapped him and forced him to flee the country.


There's enough mystery and agony here for an engaging documentary, but Rossier fails to produce one, largely because he doesn't approach the material in the spirit of true inquiry. Though he deserves credit for interviewing people like Assistant Secretary Of State Roger Noriega, who strongly disputes the claim that the U.S. interfered in Haiti's sovereignty, Aristide And The Endless Revolution is still structured like an open-and-shut case, made with circumstantial evidence. Hints and allegations get thrown around by people sympathetic to Aristide's cause, like Chomsky, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and actor Danny Glover, but ultimately there's no clear link between the United States or France and the varying bands of Haitian rebels, nor is any strong motivation provided for why foreign governments would want Haiti to plunge into anarchy.

The interviews with Aristide reveal a stung man, aghast at how nations that preach democracy work to overturn the will of the people when they don't agree with it. But he's the only interviewee who sounds suitably impassioned. Everyone else comes off like business-as-usual professional activists, trotting out their standard grumbles about corruption and ignorance. Rossier accompanies the choir with a generic agitprop documentary style, complete with ominous synthesizer score and a flat-voiced narrator who sounds like he's auditioning to do the welcome film for the Jean-Bertrand Aristide Visitor Center & Museum. If even half of Rossier's interviewees' claims about American foreign policy are true, there's ample reason to be outraged. But mostly what Aristide And The Endless Revolution proves is that righteous propaganda makes for bad art.