Official Selection IDFA – Amsterdam
Haitians have had enough of foreign organizations that promise a lot but deliver little — including the UN. The peacekeeping force, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, has killed gang leaders in the poorest neighborhoods and achieved relative peace, but on the streets they have a reputation for doing nothing. The filmmaker, Rachel Smith, goes to the shantytown of Cite Soleil and follows Enock, a pastor and community leader. In exchange, he secures the promise of her help. Smith follows a Brazilian UN soldier and — as they work within the mission, toward its mandate for security and stability an American officer, and as she tries to square the mission’s bad reputation with the people who fill its ranks, she identifies an officer who might be able to help Enock’s community. Competing accounts of MINUSTAH’s interventions in Cite Soleil arise, and as Smith keeps visiting the neighborhood, her role there becomes more complex. More requests are made of her, and she finds there are some places where she’s not welcome. A historic earthquake hits Haiti in 2010 and Smith returns, tracing what has changed — and what remains the same.
Rachel Smith grew up in Seattle and received her MFA in fiction from the University of Mississippi. She directed the documentary film MINUSTAH Steals Goats, which is forthcoming from 7th Art Releasing. While at Stanford, she plans to continue working on a novel and writing stories.