A film that’s high on my to-see list this year, and which I think will generate some discussion here and elsewhere (assuming it’s released here in the USA)… Hatian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s latest work, a feature documentary titled Assistance Mortelle (or Fatal Assistance in English), which is making its World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival this month, and which we should have a review for you as well.
What promises to be an exposé that will offer the world a look at the international community’s response and reaction to the devastating 2010 earthquake Haiti suffered, through the eyes of Haitians in Haiti, the 100-minute fim (culled from a total of over 500 hours of footage) was shot over 2 years, starting soon after the January 2010 earthquake, through last year.
Here’s an official synopsis:
12 January, 2010. A devastating earthquake shakes Haiti’s capital. In an instant 250,000 people are killed and 1.2 million left homeless. NGOs from all over the world send experts for critical relief efforts. At first, everyone has high hopes: at an international donors’ conference billions of dollars are pledged and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), co-chaired by Bill Clinton, is created to oversee worldwide solidarity efforts. But, two-and-a-half years later, you only have to set foot in Port-au-Prince to see the international community has failed. Hundreds of thousands are still living in tents; the IHRC is as good as dead and only a fraction of the funds pledged have arrived in Haiti. Filmed over two years, Haitian born filmmaker Raoul Peck’s documentary tries to find out how, in spite the international community’s promises, the needs of ten million people in the Caribbean came to be met in such a paltry fashion. He questions political decision-makers, private contractors and engineers – and of course ordinary Haitian people, who have begun a painstaking reconstruction of their own.
It obviously addresses the reported billions of dollars in foreign aid that were said to have poured into Haiti relief after the earthquake, although it’s not entirely clear where all that money went, since many are still living in squalor.
It’ll now step onto the world cinema stage, after a private screening in Haiti last fall, when it bows as a special screening at the Berlinale, screening on February 9 and 10.
And, as noted, even though I personally won’t be at Berlin this year, there will be S&A coverage of the festival, thanks to 2 writers in Berlin who’ll be attending and submitting reviews.
The first trailer for Assistance Mortelle has surfaced and is embedded below: