Friday, March 7, 2014

Film 'Fatal Assistance' spotlights colossal aid failure in Haiti

With unintentional understated irony, senior housing advisor Priscilla Phelps of Bill Clinton's Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) becomes the conscience of Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck's Fatal Assistance (Assistance Mortelle), which opened Friday at the Lincoln Center for a one-week run before moving on to Miami and other cities. Peck meticulously revisits the timeline, from the first seconds of the monstrous Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake through almost three years of "recovery" efforts by the international community.

Fatal Assistance opens and closes with frightening footage of a man and a woman caught on security cameras during the initial moments of the quake. The man runs for his life as structures implode around him in a burst of dust and debris. He disappears off-camera and we do not learn his fate.

The woman, running into an open courtyard, literally falls to the ground and embraces the earth. Both are Haiti, running for its collective life and having no hope of rescue, dependent completely upon the population's bond with an island that has been it's only hope and sustenance since the days of slavery.

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