By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Although “The Sweetest Girl” is set in Haiti, it was shot in just four days in South Florida in the middle of the pandemic last summer. Most of the cast and crew were locals.

Haitian-born Yanatha Desouvre, who lives in Miami, is co-writer of the screenplay and the film’s producer.

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“On the second day of shooting, the late Chadwick Boseman passed away,” Desouvre said. “And I cried like a baby because it felt like he was passing the baton to us, to pass it to the future of filmmakers by telling authentic and compelling stories.”

At just 23 minutes, the short film deals with love and redemption and tackles the trending topic #FreeHaiti.

Desouvre came to the U.S. from Haiti as a small child and experienced hate here early on.

“At the age of 5 I experience xenophobia in the United States. They told me, ‘Haitian, go back to your nation.’ Then on the news all I saw about being Black in America was that I was going to die before age 21,” he said. “But then it all changed when Wyclef Jean sang at my church and he became a Fugee and through Haiti I was back. I then saw myself in a different light because representation matters, right?”

Haitian-American actors Genji Jacques and Sandra Justice play a couple whose marriage is shattered when he is compelled to tell her his most heart-shattering secret on her death bed.

“I like this character because he had a very sheltered mindset and when you’re hiding something you always got to cover it up with a lie,” said Jacques.

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“Unlike Margarite who gets to the bottom of things,” added Justice.

All involved with film say they want people to see Haiti with new eyes.

“Being able to change the whole narrative of people thinking of Haiti and being so negative. There are so many wonderful things can and will continue to come out of Haiti,” Justice said.

Recently, “The Sweetest Girl” won best picture in the Black and African category for short films in the South Florida International Film Festival.

Desouvre is hoping for an Oscar nomination.

“We’re in our journey of submitting to and getting selected and hopefully winning Oscar qualifying film festivals and so that’s exciting,” he said.

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“The Sweetest Girl” is playing in libraries in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. You must sign up and RSVP to receive the virtual link, which you can do by clicking here.

Lisa Petrillo