Wyclef Jean isn’t the only Haitian celebrity waving his flag. Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, most popular for noble roles like Dr. Tunde Jonathan in Phat Girlz, or as The Haitian on the cult NBC drama Heroes, is working on a documentary that depicts images of his homeland that he feels the media isn’t showing. He started filming years before the 7.0 earthquake struck but says that now his film, Haiti 16:53, which has gone in a new direction, is more important than ever.
“I want to teach to some level, some angle about Haiti to the rest of the world. I hope that some of the images that you see in the doc aren’t the same images that you see on the world news because sometimes they don’t show everything,” Jean-Louis, who established a non-profit organization in the country, Hollywood Unites For Haiti, two years ago, tells VIBE. “With the doc, we’re trying to show different elements of Haiti ⎯about the earthquake and also, personally, how I lived it with my family.”
Jean-Louis narrates as his journey takes viewers through his teary family reunion, visits to people who weren’t as lucky during the aftermath and to volunteers and doctors who are in dire need of more supplies.
“Seven months later it’s almost as bad as the first day, which is pretty sad. A lot of people that are in power to make decisions are extremely hesitant because they’re not sure of their moves so they just take their time before they get in action,” says Jean-Louis. “People just have to go and do things instead of trying to think too hard about what they’re trying to do.“ A snippet of Haiti 16:53 was premiered earlier this year at the Phoenix Film Festival but Jean-Louis’ goal is to debut the full length feature at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, one month before the earthquake’s anniversary.
“I just want to answer the questions that people have in their minds from a very personal point of view in a way that people can relate,” says Jean-Louis. “People have to understand what’s going on so they might understand why we need to come together and to try to help a Haitian that really needs that help because we’re all here together in the world. We’re still one people no matter what race or culture, we’re all here together.” ⎯Starrene Rhett