Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Supporting Haiti through Filmmaking: Jean-René Rinvil

By Alex Popa

Jean-René Rinvil was born and raised in Fouche, Grand-Goave, Haiti until he was twelve. His family emigrated to the US, to Miami, Florida, after the revolution against former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier. Living through this harrowing period and after hearing and seeing so much bad news about Haiti fostered a sense of justice in young Jean.

He promised himself he’d be the one behind the camera, showing the reality of Haiti as it’s experienced by its citizens. His dream became true several years later when he became a news editor for Miami’s Channel 7 Fox News station. But on the side, he was doing independent investigations and pursuing a filmmaking career.

Studies & Profession

Jean-René graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications. He also completed a Master of Fine Arts in film, social media, and art from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, he is a media producer at a well-known healthcare company and a Konpa dance instructor at Danse Konpa, a company he founded in 2011.

Jean also has an online store on Etsy (rinvilart) where he sells clothes mainly inspired by Haitian designs. He’s a proud Haitian who’s not afraid to show his roots and take pride in his national heritage. “The history of my people inspires me,” he says.

“As an artist, my dream remains to make a strong and long-lasting impact in my community.”

Accomplishments & Goals

Jean-René’s accomplishments include winning the “Culture Clash” Best Documentary Film award at the Haiti Movie Awards with his graduate thesis film, “Lavichè”. The film was also featured in the SAIC newspaper in Chicago. He also won several awards for his mental health film “Healing a Nation/Twoub Mantal”. In his more than twenty years of filmmaking and investigative reporting, Jean has worked on countless projects about mental health, cultural disparities, sexual assault, and more.

In the future, he wants “Healing a Nation” to be shown at screenings worldwide. He wants to talk about mental health in the Haitian community and see where he can help. Finally, he wants to participate in art exhibitions and even get his own show at a local museum. The artist in him is trying to get out, after all!

His Advice for Future Haitian Generations

Students in Haiti often lack basic technologies like tablets, laptops, and equipment. He believes Haitian students in the US could create school coalitions to provide financial and practical assistance to students in Haiti. As for his own involvement, for many years Jean has been a part of OREZON, an organization that provides mental health services to the local populace and educates them about protecting the environment.

He wants to do more for Haiti, though. Through his filmmaking, he believes the world can see what Haitians are truly capable of. They’re not just destitute and tragic victims of history. They’re wonderful people with a keen sense of creativity and artistic freedom. If given the chance, he would highlight this reality through his films.

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