Vol. 39, No. 4
Table of Contents
  Filmmakers Turn Focus on Haiti at Santa Barbara Film Festival By Emily Einolander ’09
  Marine Science Teaching Facility to be Built on UCSB Campus By Gail Gallesich, UCSB Public Affairs
  To the Point: Q and A with the Fantom of the Thunderdome
  Alumni Perspective: Playing at Predictors By Maya Rupert ’03
  UCSB Alumni Association 2009 Annual Meeting Notice
  Sports Roundup:
Women’s Basketball Wins Big West
  Research Roundup:
Program Maps Out Marine Protected Areas
  Around Storke Tower:
News & Notes From the Campus
  Alumni Authors:
Music, Evolution and Tragedy
’40s to the Present
  David Potter ‘01, and Blair Fox, both winemakers at Fess Parker Winery, walk through Rodney’s Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Potter draws on his experiences with winemaking in California, Australia, and France when producing wine under his own label, Municipal Winemakers.

Cover photo by Rob Brown / Winescapes Photography
Alumni Filmmakers Turn Focus on Haiti at Santa Barbara Film Festival
By Emily Einolander ’09

As Hollywood stars received awards at the Arlington, the humanitarian faction of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival attendees gathered to view a documentary film made by two UC Santa Barbara alumni at the Victoria Hall Theater in January. “Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy,” made its debut on Jan. 23 as the first in the Local Filmmaker's division.

The 50-minute film captures the day-to-day struggles of five Haitian women, following them through hidden-camera lenses into their factory jobs and their over-crowded homes. All five are members of the Committee to Defend Working Women's Rights, (KODDFF, in Creole), a non-governmental organization in Port au Prince that takes up issues related to health care, working conditions, and women’s safety.

Renée Bergen '93Director Renée Bergen, a 1993 graduate of the UC Santa Barbara film studies department, is no stranger to SBIFF, having won the 2003 Social Justice award for Documentary Film for “Sadaa E Zan (Voices of Women).” For Mark Shuller, who earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from UCSB in '97, the film was a first. His work with KODDFF served as research for his dissertation, and is what inspired the film.

More than that, the women of KODDFF demanded he make the film going as far as to make it part of his research contract. The stars of the film--Solange, Frisline, Thérèse, Marquise and Hélène--were consulted during every step of the filming and editing process. Shuller described this close relationship with the subjects of the film as a way of “de-colonizing” anthropology.

"They were persistent in saying: 'You want to help? You buy our clothing, and you're all members of the most powerful government in the world who is imposing their policies on Haiti, so if you want to do some good, share our stories with people who can actually do something about it,’ " Shuller says.

Mark Shuller '93Shuller contacted Bergen at the suggestion of Janet Walker of the film studies department.

“I’m the brains and she’s the heart of the film,” he says, “and I think you need both.”

The film has received support and guidance from numerous UC Santa Barbara faculty and staff members, including Claudine Michel, Richard Appelbaum, and George Lipsitz. The Center for Black Studies Research played an integral part in making the production and distribution possible, through financing Bergen's trip to Port au Prince, supplying materials, processing donations, making contacts, and promoting the film. Shuller was active on the KCSB program “Voices for Global Justice,” most memorably in coverage of the Haitian coup that took place in October of 2003, and also credits the station’s Elizabeth Robinson as an early supporter of “Poto Mitan.”

On top of receiving support from the campus community, “Poto Mitan” has 130 individual funders. Organizations such as Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and the Quixote Center have supported the film, the latter propagating it through House Party Campaigns. These are events in which members invite friends to their homes, screen the film, and facilitate discussions about how they can help the situation in Haiti.

"This film, I hope, will do some of the work we need to be doing in the U.S. and that's rethinking how we're going to be citizens of the world--how we're going to be neighbors in solidarity," Shuller says. He enumerates such causes as canceling Haiti's debt, ending the farm bill, increasing minimum wage, and ending United Nations involvement in Haiti.
Purchasing the film itself, or donating to the Center for Black Studies Research, can also help.

"As soon as we get out of debt," Shuller says, "every dollar goes to Haiti."

To find out more about the film, issues related to Haiti, and ways in which you can help, visit www.potomitan.net.