Easmanie Michel, a filmmaker and graduate student in Cinema Studies at NYU/TISCH, has secured the rights to make a film based on the short story “Caroline’s Wedding,” by award-winning Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat.
After learning that Hanky Panky was one of the corporate sponsors of this year’s Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, Michel asked Lida Orzeck, Hanky Panky’s CEO, to help fund and costume Michel’s film. “The prominence of the author, Michel’s enthusiasm for the project, and the importance of bringing women’s stories to the screen, convinced us that Hanky Panky should support this film-in-the-making,” said Lida.
What form will our support take? Well, for starters, we pledged to donate $1,000 to the film’s Kickstarter campaign, which ends on June 22nd. And if the film makes its budget and goes into production, we will donate red and black panties, which play a starring role in both Danticat’s short story and the film adaptation.
“Caroline’s Wedding” follows two sisters, Grace and Caroline, in the month leading up to Caroline’s wedding. Grace was born in Haiti and emigrated with her parents to Brooklyn, New York as a child. Caroline, the younger sister, was born in New York. Dandicat’s story focuses on the ambivalence of the girls’ mother to the wedding: Caroline is not marrying a Haitian man, her fiancée did not come to her mother with a proposal letter in hand, asking permission, and Caroline’s wedding dress is store bought and above-the-knee. But the story is also full of smaller, everyday instances of the intersection of Haitian and American cultures within this nuclear family. One such instance of would-be culture clash, navigated by the sisters with characteristic panache, involves red panties:
It had been almost ten years since Papa had died of untreated prostate cancer. After he died, Ma made us wear mourning clothes, nothing but black dresses, for eighteen months. . . . Underneath our black clothes we were supposed to wear red panties. . . .Ma believed that Caroline and I would be well protected by the red panties. Papa[‘s spirit] . . . would stay away because the sanguine color of blood was something that daunted and terrified the non-living. (Danticat, “Caroline’s Wedding,” p. 170, in Krik? Krak! (New York: Vintage Books, 1996).
Missing their father, and less fearful of dead spirits than their mother, the sisters collude to wear black panties instead:
We had never worn the red panties that Ma had bought for us over the years . . . Even though we no longer wore black outer clothes, we continued to wear black underpants as a sign of lingering grief. (Danticat, 172)
Good Luck Easmanie and Team! We can’t wait to see Danticat’s story on screen!