When disaster strikes, those outside the affected area often feel helpless, wondering what they can do. Food distribution and medical relief is best left to the experts, but cinema can provide its own form of assistance. For hundreds of children left orphaned and desperate after the recent earthquake, the Haiti Kids Kino Project is aiming to provide a vital source of entertainment and distraction from suffering.
"I read a report by a major UN representative which said that in time of crisis, children who have suffered devastating loss and are left with nothing to do have levels of anxiety and despair that go through the roof," said BAFTA short film award winner Esther May Campbell, who is helping to run the project. "We don't want to get in the way of the people offering aid, but we're working with them to try and restore an element of hope."
The project is organised by volunteers from the Cube, which Esther says she has always found inspiring because of its commitment to art, culture and politics. It is working with established NGOs like Save The Children but also with local cultural groups. The long term aim is that it will be owned and managed by Haitian people themselves.
"We're taking over a film projector and a collection of films curated by leading intellectuals, film critics and writers with a view to what will work culturally in Haiti," Esther explains. "We'll begin just by showing films - literally under the stars, projected on a big screen. Then we want to start helping the kids there to make their own films, mini-documentaries or film postcards. We'll take them back to England and show them to children here, and some of those children will make films to send in return. It's a sort of cultural exchange project. It can offer community, hope and distraction."
If you would like to help support the Haiti Kids Kino Project, visit http://nanoplex.cubecinema.com/haiti_kids_kino.php to make a donation.