Ciné Institute students were already creating short documentaries when producer Douglas Arrowsmith asked them to produce a series of collected works for CBCNews.ca Canada. The students created a range of short films with a raw power and access that only Haitians filming Haitians can obtain: a little girl helping doctors in a tent camp; surgeons working in difficult conditions; the agony of losing loved ones; the joy of rescuing those trapped under the rubble, the trials of the handicapped after the quake; and the fight to save the historic buildings…
In the weeks following the earthquake in Haiti, CBCNews.ca began working with the Ciné Institute film school in Jacmel to uncover stories that were not being told by other media.
Jacmel, on Haiti’s southern coast, was one of the communities hit hardest during the quake. The Ciné Institute suffered extensive damages and the majority of the students lost loved ones and homes.
When they returned to their former studio, they were surprised to find that somehow the camera equipment had survived the devastation. Together they dug the gear out of the rubble and began filming.
In the words of second-year student Ebby Angel Louis, “The earthquake turned out to be a master’s class in journalism and civic duty for us.”
School officials report the Ciné Institute was the only school in the southeast of the country that remained functioning in the aftermath.
Against many odds, the students resolved to tell stories about hope and survival from their communities in Jacmel, and CBC offered to help them get these stories out to the wider world.
These are their stories of Haiti.
A new normal
The series begins with A Day in the Life of Ciné Institute.
Wooden coffins for sale. Rows of red and brown Coleman pup tents lining the streets. Masses of people waiting to fill gas tanks. Displaced orphans. These are images of the new normal in Jacmel.
At Ciné Institute, young Haitians can develop the creative, technical and business skills they need to grow local media businesses to create jobs and spur economic growth. The students had been learning the ABCs of feature fiction filmmaking there — but that all changed when the quake hit.
Dealing with personal loss and mounting grief, students and staff got to work to document the destruction in Jacmel and film the moments of hope that they found.
This film is a glimpse into their lives days after the earthquake.