A year after a devastating earthquake leveled vast sections of Haiti, Mercedes Kane brought a film crew to the impoverished island nation. Kane (MFA ’09), an independent filmmaker, wanted to show the world heartache and hope in Haiti following the January, 2010 disaster.
Kane’s documentary, Today We Saw the Face of God, focuses on a Chicago-area group that was on a medical mission in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Kane is director and producer of the 68-minute film.
“I wanted this to be shown through their eyes,” she said. Kane also wanted to show the continuing hardships in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.
On the day of the quake, the medical mission, led by nursing instructor Sue Magnuson Walsh, was working in a remote clinic in Gramothe, and preparing to leave for home the next day. Kane’s sister-in-law, Sarah Kane, was a member of Walsh’s team. Although the clinic was not damaged, members of Walsh’s group felt the ground shake. Before long, hundreds of victims came to the facility looking for medical attention. For the next several days, Walsh and members of her group worked at the clinic as first responders, treating serious injuries, burns, and infections.
Kane knew she wanted to make a film about the earthquake and the medical mission’s experiences. She was also inspired by Magnuson’s book, Walking in Broken Shoes. Kane enlisted the help of other Chicago filmmakers, who agreed to accompany her to Haiti on the one year anniversary of the quake. Prior to the trip, she started filming interviews with members of Walsh’s group. Fifteen members of the original mission made the trip back in January, 2011.
For some members of the mission, the aftermath of the quake was still traumatic. “It was like nothing that anyone had ever seen before. No one is ever prepared for this kind of disaster. It was way beyond anything that anyone could have imagined. It changed everyone’s life.”
Kane and her film crew needed to bring all their equipment to the island, along with generators and backup generators to ensure they would never lose power during filming. At trip’s end, Kane had 90 hours of film.
Just going to Haiti changes your life, Kane says. “We were at a clinic up in the mountains. To get there, people have to walk a long distance, and many bring their children with them. They don’t have good shoes. Then, when they get there, they have to wait five or six hours to see a doctor. You think about going to the doctor here, and how it is such a big deal to wait for a half hour. The people in Haiti are so incredibly patient, and they appreciate the care they receive so much.”
With the film completed, Kane has shifted into its marketing and distribution. She is trying to get it accepted at film festivals and looking for social media support to make that happen. More information on the film is available at www.todaywesawthefaceofgod.com.
Kane, a producer of corporate stage and video producer at Kindle Communications in Chicago, praised Governors State’s MFA program in Independent Film and Digital Imaging. “(Professors) Dan Nearing and Sang-Hoon Lee are masters of their craft. I am where I am today because of them.”