A couple months following the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, photographer Jon Moyer was asked to go to Haiti to photograph a family that his church was trying to help. It was a kind of fact-finding mission to assess the needs of one particular community and report back to the congregation. “It was the last place I thought I would end up visiting,” Moyer admits.
Moyer was expecting to find sadness and depression, instead he found hope and joy in the Pierre family. “They were right in the middle of Port of Prince and basically their entire community was severely damaged by the earthquake. Their house was one of the only ones that had relatively insignificant damage. And even though it’s really, really, small, it became the only structure that people in the neighborhood were comfortable going inside for shelter. Several months after the earthquake, everyone was still living in tents in front of their house,” he explains.
And not only did the Pierre family provide shelter for almost everyone in the community, they also took in 17 children who were orphaned in the earthquake, despite having 10 of their own. The Pierre family is special in other ways as well. The entire family is very musical, and the community sings out joyfully, despite the hardships they’ve endured.
“What really struck me right off the bat was the resiliency of being able to essentially put a smile on their faces and be joyful even when they really had been through so much,” Moyer says. “Everybody was very warm and welcoming.”
Moyer befriended the Pierre’s son Bekenson, a bass player. When Moyer asked Bekenson who his favorite musician was he replied, “Victor Wooten.” Unbeknown to Bekenson, Moyer had photographed Wooten recently. That’s when Moyer thought of asking Wooten to come to Haiti and be part of a documentary about this very special community.
Wooten says he gets a lot of ideas in e-mails, and most of the time he just doesn’t have time to act on them. “There was this spark to it,” says Wooten, of the idea to go to Haiti. “This was something that I really wanted to do. To actually get the opportunity to come to Haiti was an interesting possibility.” So, on Moyer’s third trip to Haiti, Wooten came along and surprised Bekenson.
Moyer also brought along producer Josh Vittek to capture the experience on film. Haiti 10, was inspired by Moyer’s desire to tell the community’s story of resilience through faith, love, and music. “That was what resonated with me,” he explains. “Those are the three elements that we felt brought people through the disaster. That’s what gave them hope and joy, and that’s what gave their spirit the resiliency. That’s what we want to share. It’s an uplifting film of overcoming hardship and disaster.”
Haiti 10 is scheduled to premiere at a 2016 film festival. Details of its release are being finalized. Follow the film’s progress at www.facebook.com/Haiti10.