The Ciné Institute, which recently moved to a new campus five miles west of Jacmel, is devoted to developing Haitian film-makers. During the first year, students are immersed in all aspects of filmmaking such as narrative, advertising, music videos and documentary. In the second year, students specialize in screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, sound, editing or production design. Recent clients include Arcade Fire, BET, Brandaid Project, Brasserie Nationale d'Haiti, The Clinton Foundation, Google, Medicos del Mundo, and USAID. Below is an update from Founder David Belle and links to new films produced by Cine students.
The Service to Serve Haiti Committee is a group of individuals from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC committed to supporting recovery efforts in Haiti. Its members have organized a screening of "Lift Up", a documentary about two Haitian brothers who return to Haiti in order to memorialize the grandfather they lost after the earthquake. The screening will benefit Fonkoze, the Haiti Micah Project, and the Saint Vincent's School for the Handicapped, each of which the Committee's members have worked with and know first hand the impact these groups are making for women and children in Haiti. Below is the official press release.
“Are you a Missionary? What is Your Religion?” Two common enough questions when Haitians are getting to know foreigners. Haiti is a religious country and even the smallest villages have multiple churches if not a library or a clinic. While every imaginable denomination has a presence in Haiti, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodoun form an uneasy trinity. Haitian Vodoun is a vibrant, fascinating religion. One need not be a Vodouisant to experience it, appreciate it, and learn from it.
You don't have to go to Haiti to start learning about Haitians. In many cities along the East Coast, there are ample opportunities to experience Haitian culture. The Tap Tap Restaurant in Miami is a great place to enjoy Haitian food, music, and art at the same time. If in Miami, it is well worth a visit.
The economy of every Caribbean country, from Cuba to Curacao, depends to a certain extent on tourism. The question is not whether Haiti can benefit from tourism so much as where, how, and to what degree. In order to learn more about the potential for tourism in Haiti, we caught up with Patrick Smyth, founder of Tours to Haiti. The interview, as well as a link to the website and contact information, follows.
It’d be hard these days to find patrimonial or natural riches in countries with vibrant histories that haven’t been exploited to the brink of destruction by over tourism, reviewed on Trip Advisor, or listed in Lonely Planet. At most tourism sights, capturing the past to a point so vivid you feel like you’re actually there in history uninterrupted by expensive entrance fees, trinket vendors, t-shirt shops, fat foreigners, and a cacophony of cameras shuttering, is difficult. So if ever there was a positive side to the chronic economic, insecurity and political turmoil of Haiti, then this may be it.
Below is an article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award recently given to Haitian born author Edwidge Danitcat. The prize, in an of itself a great honor, comes with $500,000. Her books include "Breath, Eyes, Memory", "Krik? Krak!", "The Farming of Bones", "Behind the Mountain", "The Dew Breaker", "Brother, I am Dying" and others. On the foundation website, you can read about her background and see a video clip where she discusses her work. Hopefully, a new generation of writers, in Haiti and its Diaspora, will be inspired by Edwidge's success and share their stories with the world.
Although one would not know it from most mass media coverage of Haiti, it is a beautiful, little country. For that reason, I was happy to read Amy Wilentz's excellent article in Conde Naste. She describes her own love affair with Haiti and then lists where a person can stay and play. As I read it, I thought of all the things I miss about Haiti - the sandy beaches, drinking rum punch, listening to racine music, going to vodoun ceremonies, napping on straw mats, talking on porches, as well as the countryside camraderie and never-ending jokes and pranks. For some, it is time to visit Haiti for the first time. For many of us, it is time to go back.
Many interesting films have been made about Haiti - but comparatively few of them have been made by Haitians. Someday, this may change. Jacmel's Cine Institute, the only film school in Haiti, is teaching students how to make documentaries, films, and even commercials. Donations help to keep the tuition free. These initial efforts may be short, but they could represent the first steps in the careers of a new generation of Haitian film-makers. Below are links to and summaries of the 2009 Spring Semester films.
‘Apre dans tanbou a lou’---Amid some of Haiti’s chronic concerns, upcoming senatorial elections, unstable gas prices, and food insecurity, tens of thousands of Haitians still managed to put all their troubles aside and revel in 3 days of carnival festivities which culminated yesterday during Mardi Gras under an unusual downpour of rain.