Owning Our FutureHaitian Perspectives in Film
Maîtres de Notre Futur: Points de Vue du Cinema Haitien
The 10 short films in the collection Owning Our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film were made by Haitians from across the country. Their films provide a unique opportunity to experience Haiti as it is lived by street vendors, business women, artists, farmers and more. These stories nourish an understanding of the world that counteracts the relentless focus of western media on battlefronts, crises and disasters which leave core-causes and long-term development issues unaddressed or misunderstood. This project was a partnership between Haitian community media and development organizations, Community Supported Film and international NGOs.
The objectives of this project were:
- To strengthen Haitian governance and economic development by empowering local video-journalists and documentary filmmakers;
- The production of 10 Haitian-made high-quality short films that uniquely present Haitian issues and needs from the local perspective;
- To use these films to influence opinion and policy regarding effective aid and sustainable development.
In December 2014, Community Supported Film trained Haitian storytellers to make documentary films about the causes of and solutions to the economic and social development challenges their communities have faced since the 2010 earthquake. The DVD of their short films, titled Owning Our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film, was released in 2015, the 5th anniversary of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010.
In addition to producing 10 high-quality short films, the training equipped the storytellers with employable skills.
Learn more about the Training Process.
Ralph Thomassaint Joseph
Haiti Program Coordinator
Ralph Thomassaint Joseph is a Haitian multimedia journalist. Prior to the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Ralph worked for Enfòmasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (ENDK), a daily radio program launched by Internews. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Joseph’s work was distributed to nearly 40 radio stations to keep locals informed. Ralph has assisted in the production of nearly 600 news shows, which also serve as training tools for young and aspiring Haitian journalists. Ralph won the 2014 Prix Philippe Chaffanjon award for multimedia reporting in Paris, France. He is currently doing a Masters in Journalism at NYU and continues his leadership role at the online Haitian news service, AyiboPost.
Films – Owning Our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film
Story 2: Brave the World, Marie Jessy Kernizan
Story 3: Out of the Rubble, Robenson Sanon
Story 4: Shifting Gears, Muselene Carilus
Story 5: Milking Local Capacity, Jethro-Claudel Pierre Jeanty
Story 6: Crafting the Next Generation, Christien Sylvaince
Story 7: Banking on my Child, Jean Wilson Therrier
Story 8: Threading the Needle, Sylvestre Fils Dorcilus
Story 9: Importing Disaster, Jenipher W. Charles
Story 10: Ghetto Green, Ghetto Clean, Steeve Colin
Owned and Occupied (Chèmèt, Chèmètrès) (Original 08:27, Excerpt: 01:03)
Editor: Evens Louis; Sound: Muselène Carilus
After the 2010 earthquake a farmer’s organization helps its members rebuild their homes. Rather than spend money and time on temporary shelters they work with the farmers and the “Konbit,” a Haitian-shared labor system, to rebuild permanent homes at a fraction of the cost that international organizations are spending on their three-phase system of “relief, relieve and rebuild.”
Bichara Villarson has been involved with media since 1995, when he began his career as a community radio journalist and host. He was the founding member of the Haitian Creole Troupe, and also worked as a press attaché with the Apotheoses School of Dance. Bichara lives in Les Cayes working as a radio and video journalist.
Brave the World (Bouske Lavi) (Original: 06:36, Excerpt 00:50)
Editor: Mysuel Thimotee; Sound: Jean Wilson Therrier
Dieula Marie Denise Souffrant breaks out of the shadows, where most Haitians keep their disabled family members, and not only makes a life for herself but leads the way for others.
Marie Jessy Kernizan
Marie Jessy Kernizan is trained in theater and dance performance. She has worked on both national and international productions, including in Switzerland and with the renowned Haitian Palto Vanyan company. Palto Vanyan performed educational and political comedy skits in the camps after the 2010 earthquake.
Out of the Rubble (Soti nan Dekonm) (Original: 06:39, Excerpt: 01:16)
Editor: Yrvelt Lamour; Sound & Production Assistance: Junior Casséus, Luxon Dorcéus
Artists use the trash that fills roads and rivers after rain storms, as well as pickings from the earthquake rubble that still remains in huge sections of the city, to comment on the hopes and challenges facing their ghetto and country.
Robenson Sanon holds a certificate in natural disaster and HIV/AIDS response from the University of San Diego. He earned a degree in Spanish and taught for a few years before starting to work as a journalist for a number of news agencies. Currently he is a reporter and host at Radio/TV Magik 9.
Shifting Gears (Chanje Vitès) (Original: 05:33, Excerpt: 00:45)
Editor: Jude Stanley Roy; Sound & Production Assistance: Bichara Villarson
In an industry dominated by men, a mother and wife excels in auto repair, breaking common perceptions of the role of women in Haitian society.
Muselène Carilus graduated with a degree in social communications and continues to learn through seminars and trainings. She has served as a cultural commentator, host and reporter at a number of radio stations. Currently Muselène works as the Head of Communication for Plate-forme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains (POHDH), a leading Haitian human rights group.
Milking Local Capacity (Pwodiksyon Lèt pou yon Kominote Djanm) (Original 05:59, Excerpt: 00:58)
Editor: Mysuel Thimothée; Sound: Christien Sylvaince, Steeve Colin; Production Assistance: Robenson Sanon
Haitian farmers are fighting the government’s allowance of cheap imported food by collaborating to rebuild their production capacity and, thereby, their country’s food security and sovereignty.
Jéthro-Claudel Pierre Jeanty
Jéthro-Claudel Pierre Jeanty lives in Ouanaminthe and has worked as a teacher of Creole and social sciences, and as a director and reporter for two radio stations. Since taking the CSFilm training he is working as a regional reporter for Groupe Mèdialternatif concentrating on border issues. Jethro is also pursuing a degree in law.
Crafting the Next Generation (Fòme Jenerasyon k ap Vini an) (Original: 07:23, Excerpt: 01:13)
Editor: Mysuel Thimotee; Sound: Sylvestre Fils Dorcilus; Production Assistance: Robenson Sanon
A skilled craftsman passes down a local art-form by teaching low-income youth the traditional techniques of sculpting recycled metal in Croix-des-Bouquets, the center of the Haitian metalwork movement.
Christien Sylvaince began his career as a student of computer science, but turned his focus to explore radio and photography before settling on film. He trained as a commercial and fiction-film cinematographer at Ciné Institute, but has taken a particular interest in documentary filmmaking. Christien works as a filmmaker in Jacmel.
Banking on My Child (Envesti nan Timoun) (Original 08:38, Excerpt: 00:59)
Editor: Jude Stanley Roy; Sound & Production Assistance: Steeve Colin and Marie Jessy Kernizan
The proliferation of street sellers is one indicator of the dire straits of the formal economy and employment opportunities in Haiti. As millions are left without access to basic government or banking services, they come up with all kinds of survival techniques. To combat their exploitation by loan sharks they created the “Sol”, a uniquely Haitian revolving loan scheme. It allows some to reach for something beyond subsistence, but for most it simply helps them to pay the loan sharks and avoid injury.
Jean Wilson Therrier
Jean Wilson Therrier has a degree in social work and has taken a particular interest in land rights which has led him to hold a number of leadership positions in land collectives. He has also worked for the Red Cross’s department of disaster management.
Threading the Needle (File Zegwi) (Original: 06:01, Excerpt: 01:04)
Videographer: Christien Sylvaince; Editor: Evens Louis
An entrepreneurial Haitian woman, damaged physically, psychologically and economically by the 2010 earthquake, restores her family and her pride by starting her own interior decorating business.
Sylvestre Fils Dorcilus
Sylvestre Fils Dorcilus worked as a print journalist for Groupe Medialternatif. He currently works for a marketing company.
Importing Disaster (Dezas Pèpè a) (Original: 05:11, Excerpt: 00:36)
Editor: Evens Louis; Sound: Bichara Villarson; Interviewer: Jessy Kernizan
A multi-generational cobbler’s livelihood is put at risk when donated and imported shoes flood the market after the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent lifting of trade barriers.
Jenipher Charles is passionate about photography and videography and takes pride in being one of the few camerawomen in Haiti. She worked as a multimedia director at a local organization and now serves as a reporter at Groupe Mèdialternatif. She has produced several reports on women’s rights.
Ghetto Green, Ghetto Clean (Geto pwòp, Geto vèt) (Original: 07:57, Excerpt: 01:00)
Additional Videography: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph; Editor: Yrvelt Lamour; Sound: Jean Wilson Therrier; Production Assistance: Jude Stanley Roy and Evens Louis
Urban activists bring the rural Haitian tradition of the Konbit, shared labor, to the country’s most notorious ghetto. Neighborhoods and young people, divided by gangs and extreme neglect, create urban gardens and clean up the slum through a locally-led initiative.
Steeve Colin’s passion is participatory community development. In the Cite Soleil ghetto he works as a social engineer, specializing in project development, implementation and communications. He uses photography, and now filmmaking, to document the positive and negative impact of development projects in his community.
Organize a Screen&Discuss
The Owning Our Future films have been seen by Americans, Haitians, and internationals, to increase dialogue and influence public opinion and policy regarding effective foreign aid and sustainable development.
“There is a growing media sector in Haiti, and many Haitians – young people especially – are motivated to use media as a tool for holding their government and the international community accountable to good governance and effective aid.”
“Most of the reporting in Haiti is done by Western journalists, and often about issues pertaining to natural disasters, to poverty. They show the sad face of Haiti,” says training coordinator, Ralph Thomassaint Joseph. “It does not seem to fit their narrative to show the other side of the coin, that there are so many amazing initiatives that are undertaken by Haitians themselves.”
Special Thanks to the following generous funders of the 2014-15 Haiti training, production and distribution of Owning Our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film.
Executive Producers, $5,000 plus
Foundations and Governments
The Swiss Development Cooperation
Wes Callender and Patricia Davis
Lynne Adams and George Fifield
Christine Arveil and Benoit Rolland
Vidu and Alka Chavda
Associate Producers, $500-999
Vishakha Desai and Bob Oxnam
Antara Desai and Arjun Menon
Kaberi Banerjee Murthy and Vikram Murthy
Edward Wheatley and Mary Mackay
Assistant Producers, $50-499
Benjamin and Emily Achtenberg
David and Lynne Adamian
Kristin and Kenneth Alexander
Carroll Ann Bottino
Clare McKeown Davies and Chris Davies
Swati Desai and Gary Stephens
John and Deborah Goodman
Paul Green and Avivah Goldman
Fred and Cordette Grimsey
Sue Gronewold and Peter Winn
Nicholas and Yessun Kitchen
Charles and Sue Mann
Mary and Sherif Nada
Anuradha and Anand Parikh
Judith and Warren Radtke
Katherine M. Raisz
Scott Ruescher and Rebecca Hayden
Michael Shimkin and Barbara Fiorito
Donald and Peggy Shriver
Susanne Slavick and Andrew Johnson
Nita Sturiale Taibi
Nancy Turner and Dave Cain
Andrew and Rosamond Zimmermann
Presented & Produced by Community Supported Film
Producer: Groupe Medialternatif
© 2015 Community Supported Film and Groupe Medialternatif