Pras is widely known as 1/3 of the legendary group The Fugees. Now, you can add filmmaker to his resume. After four years, his documentary Sweet Mickey For President is getting ready to be released nationwide. The film covers the presidential campaign of an unlikely candidate Michel Martelly and his journey from dismissal to the seat of President of Haiti. For those who may not remember, 2011 was a tumultuous year for Haiti. The devastating earthquake and the election for president of Haiti happened that year. Even within that election, the world watched with the possibility of Wyclef Jean, another Fugees member, becoming President, Sean Penn’s activism and the involvement of the global community monitoring the elections for the eventual rebuilding of the country. The Source talked to Pras about the film and the wider issues affecting Haiti and its future.
What was the motivation for the documentary?
After the earthquake, I wanted to document something. People don’t know about Haiti. I wanted to document a historical moment and the Michel Martelly story.
Martelly eventually became President of Haiti. Had he lost would the film still have been released?
It would have been a different story. I don’t know if people want to see a story of people who lost. History is about winners. The story is about how people can affect change. The Haitian people forced a candidate on the ballot. The fundamental part of the story is someone who wants to do something for their country and how he prevails.
How long did it take to put the documentary together?
It took about 5 years to complete the documentary.
What has been the reaction so far to the documentary?
The reaction has been incredible. It has been well received. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s great people see how the story relates to them. The story of Haiti is the story of Ferguson, Syria, Jamaica. Anywhere people feel disenfranchised, leaders who don’t represent them, that’s what this story is about. The power of one individual to make a difference. That’s what I did, anyone can do this. I was motivated to do something for people who couldn’t otherwise.
On the subject of Haiti, the current presidential election seem to be even crazier this time than when Martelly ran in 2011. What are your thoughts on the upcoming Haitian Presidential election?
You just hope for a peaceful transition. I know one of the candidates, but I don’t know the political landscape or climate. I’m not as involved as I was with Martelly. I just hope anyone who comes helps push forward progress.
The anniversary of the earthquake is coming up this January. How has the country progressed so far if at all?
It’s been some progression, but not much. It’s going to continue to progress as more people get involved. It has to continue. For those who care, Haiti needs every hand it can get to help the situation.
In your point of view, what is Martelly’s legacy in regards to Haiti?
I don’t know yet.
What are your thoughts on a candidate like Donald Trump and the unlikelihood and success of his presidential campaign so far and it being comparable to Martelly’s presidential campaign?
It speaks to the climate of the country. If people were happy, Donald Trump wouldn’t be able to exist. He speaks to a group of people who are frustrated, angry, and don’t like the direction of the country. I have friends who are Republicans and Democrats. My friends who are Democrats don’t think much of him, but people are the same everywhere you go. If they don’t get the basic necessities, candidates like Trump and Martelly rise. They rise in these situations. Why is it that Donald Trump commands 30% of the voters in the Republican party? He was denounced and is still ahead. I don’t think we have seen this before. All the politicians will be fine. It’s the people who are going to be hurt. They are going to get caught in the crossfire. Jeb Bush is only commanding 3% of the vote and was considered the front runner before he even announced.The only thing keeping him alive is his name. 12-15 candidates are still viable. Something has to give. I think the issues are deeper than Donald Trump. He is just playing his part. To compare it to music, a record can only go as far as its being accepted. He is only as big as he is accepted. In this election, people of color are going to be affected the most. It’s very important that people exercise the right to vote. This coming election will definitely affect their daily lives.
What else is going on with Pras in terms of projects, music, documentaries, etc?
I’m doing a soundtrack for the documentary. I got a track with Ne-Yo and other great features throughout the album. I am going to keep making movies, staying alive out in L.A.
Where will be people be able to see the movie?
The film will be released nationwide in all AMC Theaters.
Any last words?
I want to encourage people. We are in very difficult times. Stay alert, pay attention and go and vote. That Obama 08 election was historical, but 2016 will affect our lives for the next 20-30 years.