haiti un update


If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you might have heard me mention that the theater company where I work has been producing a documentary about UN Peacekeepers for some time, working with Director Fisher Stevens, who recently won a Best Documentary Oscar for The Cove.

We filmed some of the documentary at the UN mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, that collapsed in the recent earthquake, and returned to Haiti to shoot some additional footage of the disaster recovery. This clip just went up on YouTube last week.

It still plays like a PSA for the United Nations. When I mentioned to Fisher that he might consider adding in the perspectives of the Haitians they seek to help in a more robust way, it was like the thought had never occurred to him. "That might be interesting," he said, his eyes glazing over in that Hollywood way. That was the end of the discussion.

I think that a lot of documentaries set in poorer nations tend to treat their local subjects as objects of observation--a shadowy backdrop, if you will--rather than real people with hopes and needs. The tendency for this is even more pronounced in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas.

Although I can't deny the good that can come of this project, I hope that it will become a lot more balanced in terms of representing not only the point-of-view of the peacekeepers, but also the people they help on the ground. I think if it doesn't, it will likely fail in its aim to bring attention and understanding to one of the most complex peacekeeping/rebuilding efforts in history.

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