Local artists heading to Haiti for Kanaval

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.

A group of about 20 people with the humanitarian organization From Gainesville With Love will be traveling to Jacmel, Haiti, this weekend to observe and film the city’s annual three-day cultural-festival Kanaval.

From Gainesville With Love was formed by Gainesville-local David Ames, 34, in 2010 after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti. The organization’s goal is to help revitalize Jacmel, which the group has dubbed a sister city to Gainesville.

The group will leave on Friday and return on Monday. While there, they will finish the documentary they have been working on for about a year. However, the film will include footage from several years ago as well, Ames said.

This will be the 13th trip the group has taken to Jacmel. The participants pay their own airfare, food and housing in Haiti, which Ames estimated to be about $400 to $500.

He said the group decided to return for the event because “every city official was saying it’s all about Kanaval.”

People prepare for the event nine months in advance and consider it one of the biggest days of the year, he said. The festival features traditional costumes, masks and ceremonies. It happens simultaneously in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and multiple other locations across the country.

Along with videographers, the group also consists of local musicians, artists, dancers and photographers.

The main goal of the trip is to be observers of the festival, but Ames said he expects collaborations with the Haitian artists to happen as they have on past trips.

He said when he first visited Jacmel he had preconceived notions about the art scene it had.

“I was expecting them to be banging on some primitive instruments, he said. “And I walk in there, and they have like 15 violins going.”

The group intends to screen the documentary in Gainesville when it is finished and enter it into film festivals.

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