A new film festival that focuses on the ongoing social and economic needs of people in Haiti is scheduled for 1-7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The Haiti Film Festival is presented by Indiana University’s Latino Cultural Center (La Casa) and the community group Bloomington for Haiti.

The Haiti Film Festival will open with “Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy,” written and narrated by Edwidge Danticat (1:30 p.m., 50 minutes, 2009). Renée Bergan, the film’s director-producer, will lead discussion after the screening.

The festival will commemorate the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and other communities in Haiti, leaving 1.5 million people homeless.

Bloomington’s first Haiti Film Festival is a joint project between Kat Forgacs, an IU graduate student in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and founder of Bloomington for Haiti, and Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa.

“This film festival is a great way to continue to educate and bring awareness on what is happening in Haiti,” Casillas said. “People quickly forget or move on to other topics, but we need to keep Haiti in the forefront of their consciousness.”

“I wanted to offer a good balance between social justice and post-earthquake films,” Forgacs said about the festival selections. “There are so many important issues going on at once. We don’t want to overlook the earthquake or neglect the advocacy needs that existed before the earthquake magnified those problems.”

Forgacs said she and Casillas also wish to present a version of Haiti that isn’t all dire. “There are so many beautiful things that can coexist with tragedy,” Forgacs said. “It’s good to show a balanced portrait of people’s daily lives, and I think several of our films provide that human understanding.”

The Haiti Film Festival will feature three independent documentaries, including one by an IU alumnus, and a selection of short films from students of the Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only scholarship-based professional film school. Directors from the films will be present for Q-and-A sessions. During the festival, Indiana-based organizations will staff booths providing information about their service work in Haiti before and since the earthquake.

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