Loading, Please wait...

8th edition: 10 April - 14 April 2019

Chèche lavi (Looking for Life) (2019 Feature Film)

Sam Ellison | Mexico, Haiti, USA | 2019 | doc | color | DCP | 76' | Creole, Spanish, Portuguese | e.s.

An honest, subtle portrait of two Haitian refugees who tell their stories on the US border. One toils to earn money, the other just to get admitted. Disappointment and resignation overcome them in turns. Where they are really better off is left unsaid.

Everything sold, everything left behind. A long journey via Brazil and Peru, in order finally to ride into Mexico in the cargo hold of a truck. Ready to embark on a new life in the USA. But then there's the wall. Haitian refugees Robens and James face unpleasant surprises in Chèche lavi, even though director Sam Ellison doesn’t show all of the misery. His portrait of two young men on the verge of a future to dream of is honest and subtle.

While the camera and music create the mood of a feature as we see Trump’s impenetrable wall being built, James and Robens tell us calmly and factually what they are going through. One is toiling to earn enough money, the other just to get admitted to the USA. Disappointment and resignation continue to vie for attention. The film doesn’t take sides on where these men are basically better off.

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 12 April 2019

Time: 19:00

Duration: 1:00

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 13 April 2019

Time: 16:15

Duration: 1:00

Place: The Cinemas 4

Date: 14 April 2019

Time: 11:15

Duration: 1:00

Year in Festival
Sam Ellison
Sam Ellison
Sam Ellison
Janis Vogel
Michael Beharie
Nora Mendis
Rachel Cantave
Kyle Martin
Abraham Avila
Sam Ellison
Year of Production
Sam Ellison


Sam ELLISON is a filmmaker and cinematographer based in New York City. He is a graduate of film programmes at Harvard and Stanford University. His first documentary short, Distribution (2016), was screened internationally at film festivals in Glasgow, Atlanta, Sebastopol, and Yerevan. As a camera operator, he has shot high-profile titles like You Are My Friend (2019), Vox Lux (2018), which was also screened at IFFR 2019, and Manchester by the Sea (2016). Chèche lavi (2019) is his first documentary feature. The film had its world premiere in Rotterdam.


Between Seasons (2016, short doc, co-dir), Distribution (2016, short doc), Chèche lavi/Looking for Life (2019, doc)