Haiti’s Ciné Institute
Aspiring Haitian filmmakers are learning their craft free of charge thanks to Ciné Institute , a Jacmel-based school founded in 2008 by Ameri- can filmmaker David Belle. The nonprofit school has created a two-year university curriculum that
includes courses in English and computer literacy, as well as
a complete film education, from cinematography to editing
and multimedia content.
In a country where just 1 percent of the population can afford to attend university, the institute is intended to be a major incubator for Haiti’s film industry. “We [want] to give Haiti
a voice—its own voice—in cinema,” says Paula Hyppolite, co-director of the school.
Ciné Institute traces its roots to the Festival Film Jakmèl, an
international film festival that provided free screenings of foreign films to tens of thousands of Haitians. Today the institute gives young Haitians the skills to share their own stories
with the world. The work of students and graduates is already
being shown internationally, from classrooms in New Jersey
to festivals in Sarajevo and Amsterdam.
Tragedy provided a chance to apply Ciné Institute skills closer
to home. The school was destroyed in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake,
but students dug their cameras out of the rubble and started
Lights, camera, action: The members of Ciné Institute’s class
of 2011, most of whom are now working as local filmmakers.
shooting scenes of the rescue effort and ensuing recovery,
while also helping deliver aid and supplies to their communities. According to Hyppolite, their efforts not only helped
relay the extent of the devastation to international audiences,
but also helped students themselves overcome the sense of
loss created by the earthquake.
Footage by the students is now being used for documenta-ries about Haiti’s story, including Haiti Rebuilds: A Journey of
Hope, recently screened at Columbia University.
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BELOW: SALVADOR GARCÍA FIGUEROA; ABOVE: COURTESY OF HAI TI’S CINÉ INS TI TUTE
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012