After hearing an NPR podcast in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, semi-retired construction worker Tim Myers is so moved he decides to build a school in the rural Hatian community of Villard. He meets his counterpart Anselm Saimplice, who readily accepts Tim's vision for a new school. Very quickly, things spiral out of control. Trying to teach Haitian laborers new skills, Tim imposes his style of construction and values. And as filmmakers and aid workers spend more time in Villard, Saimplice reveals himself to be quite different from the vibrant, selfless community leader the radio story represented. Subverting the typical NGO film, filmmakers follow through on unexpected plot twists, weaving them together with expert interviews clarifying the larger historical and social context of the school project. Ultimately the filmmakers have to question their own complicity in the byzantine network of international aid, NGOs and documentary storytelling itself.
Official Premiere at the Haiti Film Festival 2022
About the filmmaker
Jack C. Newell is a writer, director, producer, actor, and public artist. He is the co-creator of Destroy Your Art, and the co-creator of the public art project, The Wabash Lights.
His feature film credits span genres from the comedies including Monuments, Open Tables, and Hope Springs Eternal to the documentaries, 42 Grams, How (not) to Build a School in Haiti, and America’s First.
His films have been featured at the Austin Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, Bend Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Theatrically and on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and IMDbTV.
Jack's work is grounded, with great performances, and is almost always intentionally funny.