filmmaking in haiti


I've finally been kicked out of NYU. Not literally, of course, since I'm technically on academic leave. But over the course of the past two weeks I have slowly been losing access to online research databases, academic calendars, and now my e-mail. It feels so sudden! although it has been almost four semesters since I went on leave.

My 9-to-5 brings a certain clarity to these circumstances.

The director of our documentary project just came back from Haiti with some footage of the UN and other relief organizations. Today I was trying to find the correct application to read a certain type of media file on his hard drive, and I couldn't figure it out. I had no clue. Had never even seen this type of file before. Found myself cursing under my breath, asking why the hell I left film school, wondering what other technologies have passed me by. I find that, when it comes to technical things, you only ever know as much as you learnt or thought yourself capable of learning in school. But I digress.

I wanted to share a clip from the Haiti footage that made me smile. I'm quite sure I'm not breaking any rules posting it here (my boss doesn't know about non disclosure agreements), but I also hope that vous pouvez parler un peu francais. No subtitles here!

I also came across this other Haitian relief documentary online, chronicling the activities of the Red Cross.

The main problem with this Red Cross project, and also what my boss is trying to do, is that the production time is far too short. The relief effort will likely take a decade to bear fruit, and most filmmakers' attention spans--not to mention that of the public and the media at large--are simply not long enough.

But what's really fascinating is that Haiti's only film school, the Cine Institute in Jacmel, was completely destroyed and yet the students continue to make films in the aftermath of the quake. All but one of the sixty students survived, and they found six working cameras buried in the rubble that they are now using to film recovery stories. Folks have been sending donations, and I'm starting to think my next ten relief dollars should go to them.

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