April 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized

YIRA premieres Haiti film, enlists Wyclef Jean

The Yale International Relations Association (YIRA) has enlisted Haitian musician Wyclef Jean to promote its new documentary on political rebuilding in Haiti.

The documentary — called “Ayiti Leve,” the Creole phrase for “Haiti rising” — focuses on the Haitian elections last November as a window onto the country’s reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in January 2010, YIRA trip leader Alexandra van Nievelt ’13 said.

The 40-minute film grew out of a trip nine YIRA members made to Haiti over Thanksgiving break, during which they helped oversee and monitor the presidential elections, YIRA Vice President Bryan Kam ’12 said.

“The documentary is about political rebuilding, but most of our material was gathered during the elections,” van Nievelt said. “It’s about how the elections were handled, and us interviewing a lot of people that were involved — we talked to the minister of finance, the head of the UNDP, and a couple of politicians and TV hosts and different people from the media.”

Kam said the group bumped into Wyclef in the airport when they were leaving Haiti, and subsequently arranged to interview him for the film. Though Wyclef is best known for performing in hip hop group The Fugees, he had submitted his candidacy for the election, until he was disqualified for not meeting Haitian residency requirements.

Last Friday, YIRA members visited Wyclef at his studio to interview him for the end of the documentary, van Nievelt said. She added that at the end of the interview, they asked him to give “a short endorsement” of the event.

YIRA member Frankie Costa ’14 said they chose to interview Wyclef not only because he had declared candidacy, but also because he is a personal friend of Michel Martelly, the candidate who was eventually elected Haiti’s president.

“We were interviewing him about Martelly’s policies and also about [Wyclef’s] future prospects in Haitian politics,” Costa said.

The documentary will be screened in room 116 in William L. Harkness Hall this Friday at 4 p.m. It will be followed by a panel discussion with Yale professors Gary Desir and Harry Blair, Haitian scholar Hervé Fanini-Lemoine, poet Naomie Labaty and Haitian-American entrepreneur Jimmy Toussaint.

Watch Wyclef’s short promo for the film below: