How you can help in Haiti

Cine Institute Students Effort from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

One of the issues the Sundance Film Festival has set out to explore this year is the role of the arts in today’s global culture — how filmmaking and other art forms can not just stay relevant, but can actually be an agent for positive change in a world that surely needs all the help it can get.

It’s hard to think of a better example of the transformative power of art than the efforts of the students at Cine Institute, Haiti’s only film school, located in the country’s cultural capital, a seaside city called Jacmel. After the earthquake struck on January 12, Jacmel, a town of approximately 40,000, was devastated, with an estimated 10 percent of its population killed. With most of the press focused on the capital city of Port-au-Prince, aid in smaller Jacmel was slow to arrive. Yet the people were suffering.

The Cine students sprang into action, digging their cameras and equipment out of the rubble and documenting the disaster around them. They posted their videos on the Internet, where it has attracted widespread attention. Now, news cameras and global aid have come to Jacmel. Still, the students keep filming, allowing their people to tell their stories on camera in their own language, capturing an intimacy, an immediacy and an urgency that U.S. news teams cannot, conveying how connected we all are to this tragedy. They are now traveling to other towns in need of aid.

The Cine videos — which can be seen here — also remind us all of how much help the people of Haiti still need. The Sundance Film Festival has launched its own effort to help, asking that you text “SUNHAITI 10″ to 27138 to give $10. All proceeds will benefit relief organizations.