|Victoria Campbell And Gaston Jean Edy|
Filmed over the three years following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, "Monsieur le Président," a documentary film by Victoria Campbell, traces the ascent and confusing downfall of Gaston Jean Edy, a charming and much-loved voodoo priest in the Christ-Roi section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nicknamed Monsieur le Président by his community, armed with nothing but hustle and hope, he responded to the earthquake by resurrecting a defunct neighborhood health clinic, setting an admirable example of ingenuity and self-reliance in the face of government aimlessness and corruption. But in 2013, he "summoned an evil spirit" and absconded with the clinic's funds. The Doc NYC '14 Film Festival will premiere the film November 14 and 20 in its Viewfinders Competition, in which films are selected for their distinct directorial vision.
Victoria Campbell is a soft-voiced, blonde actress-turned-film maker who grew up in Martha's Vineyard. Because she was a French linguist, she traveled to Haiti immediately after the 2010 earthquake "to try to be a useful translator for the doctors and nurses." Arriving in the Dominican Republic, she and a woman friend smuggled themselves into Haiti with a camera and a small valise of medical supplies. They crossed the border disguised as nuns, with "religiosa" marked on their passports, and found a hospital in need of their help. There she met Gaston Jean Edy, who had come on his motorcycle to solicit medical help for his neighborhood, which had been sealed off by falling rubble for ten days. Campbell began to document the relief efforts as Gaston rebuilt an abandoned clinic with the support of foreign donors, renaming it Haitian Solidarity and making it a fulcrum for recovery in a district of about 14,000 people. She returned to Haiti twelve times in three years, filming the progress of this bootstrap enterprise under Gaston's astonishing leadership, documenting excavations of the rubble, medical missions to outlying communities, and a voodoo ceremony to "let the dead of the earthquake go."