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Road to Fondwa’ shows positive side of Haiti

Irena Zajickova | Friday, April 17, 2009

Justin Brandon, the director and producer of the documentary “The Road to Fondwa,” said he wants to show viewers the positive side of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.

“A lot of people go into seeing a film about Haiti and they think they’re going to see really sad stuff,” Brandon said. “This isn’t that; it shows more of a hopeful message of the people of Fondwa, who have come together and are developing.”

“The Road to Fondwa” played at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday in the Montgomery Auditorium in the LaFortune Student Center.

Brandon, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2004, said he and the other filmmakers wanted to give viewers a detailed view of life in Haiti when they made the film.

“The goal of the documentary is to give people in our audience the opportunity to travel to Haiti without actually going there,” Brandon said. “It gives people an inside look and a close look at rural Haiti. I hope that when people see it, they are moved by the story.”

“The Road to Fondwa” tells the story of the people of the village of Fondwa and their involvement in developing the country.

The people initiated projects such as opening a bank to fund local businesses and teaching villagers how to manage money. The people also founded the University of Fondwa to promote education among teens and a health clinic to prevent disease.

A street cleaner in Port-au-Prince said in the documentary that he hopes the city will one day be free of the garbage that litters its streets.

“In Haiti, there is a lot of trash,” he said. “Do you see that in the United States? We have never been to the United States … we would like Haiti to be beautiful like that too.”

The coalition of citizens that hope to promote development throughout Haiti was formed on April 24, 1988 and has been working ever since to improve the country, hoping that one day, the rest of the world will stop seeing Haiti in such a harsh light.

“The international community devalues Haiti,” one villager said. “They don’t give Haiti its true worth.”

Brandon said the citizens of Fondwa are aware that development is an ongoing process, but are optimistic that the improvements will continue.

“We’re still fighting so that we can live,” another Fondwa resident said. “We hope that one day we may truly live well.”

The film took five weeks to shoot and about 18 months to edit. What began as 45 hours of footage was slowly transformed into a 37-minute documentary.

Brandon said proceeds from the film will go towards education in Haiti, and he hopes the documentary evokes a desire to get involved with helping Haiti develop.

“We are hoping to raise funding for the University of Fondwa,” Brandon said. “And we hope people will want to get involved after they see the film.”

Brandon collaborated on the film with Notre Dame graduates Brian McElroy and Dan Schnorr. McElroy served as executive producer and Schnorr also worked as a director.