** 1990, Pax Christi, USA.
An introductory film for those who know little about Haiti. The film tries to move people for concern for political and social injustice. 30 minutes.
Pax Christi USA
National Catholic Peace Movement
348 East Tenth Street
Erie, PA 16503
Purchase: $30.00 Rental: $15.00 30 minute, color.
This video was filmed during September, 1989 when Pax Christi sent a delegation to Haiti. It is a beginners film, one that unabashedly tries to move the viewer to concern for and action on Haiti's behalf. There is a need for this sort of film to introduce people Haiti who know little or nothing of her. The film has a job to do. It does not concentrate on or much mention the attractive features of Haiti. It sets out to show and analyze Haiti's misery. This it does.
There is interesting footage of Haiti's poverty, both rural and urban in this video, yet, despite the intent, it lacks vibrancy. There is some nice Haitian music softly in the background, but the narration is slow and tends to drag at times.
There is a great need for such a film. Few people know much about Haiti. There are often opportunities to visit schools or church groups to begin to develop awareness of Haiti. I've long dreamed of finding or making such a film for PEOPLE TO PEOPLE'S use.
This film is useful for that purpose, but still not my ideal. I was constantly aware those in the film were white people getting a quick overview of Haiti's poverty, history and politics while on an initial visit. PEOPLE TO PEOPLE also takes many many people for their first visits to Haiti. It is a powerful experience. Most people come reeling away, shocked, disturbed, angry, frustrated by the misery in which so many millions live. Yet there is a danger in rushing from such peak emotional experiences to pronouncements about this complex and long-suffering land.
From the opening few sentences when we are misinformed that Haiti achieved her independence in 1840, to the constant intrusion of the foreign white people through out the film, I sensed the limits. In one rather unfortunate text, just as this group of white folks are getting into their fancy private bus, the narrator tells us they are here to see Haiti the way the people see it. Riding around in a rented vehicle is certainly not the perspective of the common folk.
The film is certainly sincere. There is a concentration on showing us the misery of Haiti, and this is done well. However, the whole film is marred by technical difficulties--filming out of the bus window, dragging text etc.
Nonetheless this film is a good place to begin. The video seems to be for those who want to get some sense of modern Haiti, and, especially to focus on the role of Roman Catholicism and the United States in that reality. Within these limits it is a useful film for those who've never been to Haiti, and those whose primary contacts with Haiti have been the lurid and sensationalist news accounts of Haiti's latest governmental outrage. The price of purchase--$30.00 is ample evidence that Pax Christi is interested in educating people about its view of Haiti and not out to make profits on the film. That's a reassuring sign!
Comments by Bob Corbett
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