SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - How do we get the people of this Earth to think more than a few days or weeks ahead? To realize that what happens to the Earth, happens to us? To embrace the idea that our fate is tied to that of the land, and the water, and the animals? You create a series of films that show how everything is connected. The “Save the Devil” Film Series adds The Diablotin Festival to that story.
“High in the mountains of Haiti on the border with the Dominican Republic there is a small community of hardworking people who are fighting for something beautiful. A future for their children and grandchildren and for a resilient seabird on the brink of extinction living alongside them.” From The Diablotin Festival Film
The Diablotin Festival continues the tradition of storytelling as an environmental conservation strategy supporting the protection of the endangered Black-capped Petrel seabird. Poised on the brink of extinction, it’s only known nesting site is high in the mountains of Hispaniola near the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Also called the Diablotin, translated as “little devil,” this tiny seabird is struggling for life while the nearby farming community feels the same. In order to save the bird and the people, an innovative conservation strategy was created by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and our partners from around the world. Sustainable farming, youth education and a celebration of community successes are part of the program, including the annual Diablotin Festival, which is the focus of the film. Most unique of all is the use of storytelling through feature films produced in Kreyol and shown to Haitian communities.
Film is one of the most powerful mediums of communication available to human beings and yet in the conservation world, it has been used primarily to entertain or fundraise with people far away from the problem. The “Save the Devil film series takes a revolutionary approach.
“We made films in Kreyol for the people directly involved with the environmental problems that needed to be resolved,” says Aaron Straight, the Creative Director of Soulcraft Allstars about The Diablotin Festival. “Our films have been shown in town centers without electricity to audiences who may have only seen a couple of movies in their lives.”
Adam Brown, Senior Biologist with EPIC explains why this is important, “Because despite all our efforts to listen to community needs, we found that it was difficult to truly explain the project to local people in a way that they could deeply relate to and fully embrace. It’s hard for people to understand that what is good for the Diablotin, or Little Devil seabird, is good for them. That a more intact ecosystem means they have protection from regular floods and natural disasters. That crops retain the topsoil needed to farm sustainably, and that these actions would increase their financial wellbeing.”
With direct input from EPIC conservationists, including Haitian Biologist Anderson Jean who narrates the film, Soulcraft Allstars managed to visually illustrate the connection between the bird’s struggles and the people’s struggles. As a result, people have really begun to fully understand this cooperative effort and it’s a model for saving the planet that has a powerful impact.
The film release is part of a fundraising campaign for EPIC to continue this humanitarian and environmental conservation effort that includes Black-capped Petrel research, sustainable farming, youth education, and storytelling through film in Haiti. Program information can be found at https://epicislands.org/black-capped-petrel.html. Donations should be directed to https://epicislands.charityproud.org/Donate/Index/4461.
The film was released on facebook.com/epicislands on February 11, 2020 and is also viewable on EPIC’s YouTube channel @epicislands and at www.epicislands.org. Previous “Save the Devil” films include Black-capped Petrel Conservation: The Project and Haiti, My Love, My Home which can be viewed on EPIC’s YouTube channel @epicislands.
Narrator, Anderson Jean
Creative + Director, Aaron Straight
Producer, Adam Brown
Director of Photography, Guido Ronge
Aerial + Second Camera, Aaron Straight
Editor, Liz Darrow
Music courtesy of Lakou Mizik and Joe Ray, “Nou Tout Se Moun,” and “Pran Ka Mwen.”
Filmed on location in the village of Boukan Chat, Haiti
About Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC)
Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) is an independent non-profit founded in 2000 with the mission of protecting the Caribbean environment through research, restoration, education and advocacy. EPIC is a results-driven organization that works on challenging, under-addressed issues through holistic programs resulting in strategic community-based actions. By recognizing the connections between ecological health, economic vitality, and the quality of life for Caribbean residents, EPIC’s work supports the vision of Caribbean communities leading the way towards a more resilient and sustainable future for everyone. To learn more about EPIC and its Caribbean initiatives visit our website at epicislands.org or find epicislands on social media.