Haiti is still reeling from the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people, but from the debris of its devastated towns, a nascent film industry has begun to emerge.
At its forefront is Guetty Felin, whose “Ayiti Mon Amour,” a portrait of a post-quake nation mourning its dead, was recently announced as the Caribbean country’s first ever entry for the foreign film category at the Oscars.
Haitian-born Felin, who journeyed to Port-au-Prince on a relief airplane 10 days after the disaster, recalls the scenes that met her as she landed, images that have stayed with her as she has pursued a career in filmmaking.
“I had never smelled death before, corpses everywhere. I was just like, ‘What is this stench?’ All throughout the city, it was just devastating,” she told AFP.
Laying waste to most of the Caribbean nation’s schools, hospitals and infrastructure, the magnitude 7.0 quake injured some 300,000 people and left another 1.5 million homeless in what was already the poorest nation in the Americas.
Seven years on, “Ayiti Mon Amour” marks not only the emergence of a distinct new voice in Haitian filmmaking but a milestone in the country’s cultural recovery, as the first ever locally-shot narrative feature directed by a woman.
Tapping into her past work in documentary, Felin infuses the realities of modern-day Haiti — the power and water shortages, the looming threat of climate change — with a lyricism that plays up its mystical side.