By Vania Andre
For some traditional Haitian parents, the only careers their children should aim for are ones in medicine and law. After all, according to those who subscribe to that belief, that’s the only way to make a good living. So, imagine the surprise of Macdala Prevot’s family, when she decided to leave law school, and pursue a career in film, at Haiti’s only film school, Cine Institute.
My friends said I was making a big mistake, Prevot said, who works as a video editor for the UN. But the way I saw it, I’d rather do something that means a lot to me, than work in a judicial system in a country where there’s no justice.
Prevot was one of seven Cine Institute graduates honored last month at the annual Haiti Optimiste benefit. Alongside the French Institute Alliance Francaise, the Artists Institute of Haiti, celebrated 10 years of success in the realm of film, art and technology.
The success these former students enjoy, is a testament to how a “potent combo of higher education, creativity, and creative industries should not be underestimated,” David Belle, founder of Cine Institute said.
The event consisted of a night of film screenings, showcasing the work of the Cine Institute students, which ranged from commercials to silent films.
“I’m humbled by what I see from these students,” Paul Haggis, founder of Artists for Peace and Justice and Oscar-winning director, said. “They work so hard to produce these films. Providing medical support, supplies, and things of that nature is great, but helping people realize their dreams is even better.”
When I joined the institute, my family kicked me out, Ketziah Jean, who graduated from Cine Institute in 2011, said. The youngest daughter in a devout Jehovah Witness family, found herself homeless for about a month, until her family slowly became accustomed to the idea.
After I started making money, my dad thought the institute was the best thing, she said. Jean now works for Sean Penn’s organization JP/HRO as a communications director.
Higher education and opportunity is a weapon against endemic poverty, and a powerful tool for social change, Belle said.
“FIAF is thrilled to support Artists Institute as the institution continues to evolve, empowering students to tell their own stories, supporting the local economy, and growing a national industry for film and the arts in Haiti,” FIAF President Marie-Monique Steckel said.
Artists Institute is Haiti’s only free college for film, art and technology, where 115 students receive full scholarships. The institute offers film studies programs through Cine Institute, and most recently added an Audio Institute, where students can study music production and audio engineering.