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Watch Now: Raoul Peck's 'Fatal Assistance' (Exposé On Haiti's Post-Earthquake Billions)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 22, 2013 10:58 AM
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Still Image From 'Assistance Mortelle'

A film that's high on my to-see list this year, and which I think will generate some discussion here and elsewhere... Hatian filmmaker Raoul Peck's latest work, a feature documentary titled Assistance Mortelle (or Fatal Assistance in English), which is currently traveling the international film festival circuit, since it's Berlin debut in February.

I was informed this morning by the Fatal Assistance team, when I inquired about screenings in the west for Stateside audiences, that the film will next screen at Hot Docs in Canada, on April 27 and 28, and May 5, with Raoul Peck in attendance. And after that, Bay area folks will be able to see it when it will screen at the San Francisco Film Festival on May 6, 7 and 8. Raoul Peck will also be present. And finally, it'll screen in New York City in mid-June (no location or date given yet).

I'm in New York, so it looks like I'll have to wait until June to see it. Although that's not so far away.

However, if you're a French or German speaker, you'll be glad to know that the film has been released online via Arte (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne), the Franco-German TV network that promotes socially-relevant arts programming.

So you can watch it in full, right now - embedded below. The rest of you, well, will have to wait. Or you can watch and let the images tell you the story.

What promises to be an exposé that will offer the world a look at the international community's response and reaction to the devastating 2010 earthquake Haiti suffered, through the eyes of Haitians in Haiti, the 100-minute fim (culled from a total of over 500 hours of footage) was shot over 2 years, starting soon after the January 2010 earthquake, through last year.

Here's an official synopsis:

12 January, 2010. A devastating earthquake shakes Haiti’s capital. In an instant 250,000 people are killed and 1.2 million left homeless. NGOs from all over the world send experts for critical relief efforts. At first, everyone has high hopes: at an international donors’ conference billions of dollars are pledged and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), co-chaired by Bill Clinton, is created to oversee worldwide solidarity efforts. But, two-and-a-half years later, you only have to set foot in Port-au-Prince to see the international community has failed. Hundreds of thousands are still living in tents; the IHRC is as good as dead and only a fraction of the funds pledged have arrived in Haiti. Filmed over two years, Haitian born filmmaker Raoul Peck’s documentary tries to find out how, in spite the international community’s promises, the needs of ten million people in the Caribbean came to be met in such a paltry fashion. He questions political decision-makers, private contractors and engineers – and of course ordinary Haitian people, who have begun a painstaking reconstruction of their own.

It addresses the reported billions of dollars in foreign aid that were said to have poured into Haiti relief after the earthquake, although it's not entirely clear where all that money went, since many are still living in squalor.

Without further ado, here's the full feature documentary, courtesy of Arte TV, which can be watched in both French and German. I'm guessing it'll only be available online for a limited amount of time, so if you plan to watch it, I suggest you do so soon:

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