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Local Filmmakers Kickstart 'How to Build a School in Haiti' Documentary

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 2, 2014 4:00PM

Photo Credit: How to Build a School in Haiti

One of the tragedies of tragedies is the transience of our concern about them. We are compelled to help in ways both great and small—but once the next natural disaster strikes, our attention advances. Meanwhile, the tragedy persists. So we question the ways we can help and who can stretch our dollars to do the most actual good. Local filmmakers Jack C. Newell and Dinesh Sabu will explore those complexities and local impact of international aid in their forthcoming documentary How to Build a School in Haiti.

The documentary details the construction of a school in rural Haiti. In the wake of the 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake, the village of Villard decided to build a new school with $3,000 in donations received after a feature on NPR’s Planet Money.

When the project was abandoned, with only a rock foundation in place, a building contractor from Colorado stepped in believing his expertise could get the job done. Faced with the realities of working in Haiti, he began to question the project’s effectiveness.

Newell and Sabu are currently filming in Haiti to continue the documentary and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to offset travel and production costs. “Part of the reason we want to run the Kickstarter at the same time as being in country filming is to highlight the situation that the independent filmmaker is in,” said Newell, who also teaches film directing at Columbia College. “The other reason is because we want to start introducing our friends in Haiti to our friends in the states, and a Kickstarter campaign is a great reason for people to get involved in the project.”

The filmmakers have followed the school’s story since the planning stage in 2011 and will continue through 2015 to explore the impact of the completed school on the village community. The Kickstarter campaign will run through February concurrent with their trip to bring attention to the issues facing the community of Villard.

How to Build a School in Haiti - Preview from Jack C. Newell on Vimeo.