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About The Film

Buy 'The Road to Fondwa' on DVD

Long Synopsis:

The Road to Fondwa tells the powerful story of a rural Haitian community poised to change the future of Haiti one University student at a time.

When Haiti is not forgotten or ignored, it is seen through a tinted lens. The small, impoverished nation shares an island with the Dominican Republic just 500 miles from the shores of Miami. It is Haiti’s proximity that brings it into our national conscience in short, periodic bursts. When a dictator is overthrown, a group of ‘boat people’ is lost at sea, or a coup is staged, it gets our attention. Reporters rush to the scene, horrific tales are told, and we feel sympathy… or is it pity? And then, as quickly as the news cycle churns, the moment disappears.

From the very beginning of the film, it is clear that The Road to Fondwa does not follow this pattern. The first interview introduces Sandelwi, a farmer and a mystic, who is riding on top of a bus that is speeding around the treacherous curves of the mountainous road to Port-au-Prince, mindless of the precipitous drop to the valley below. ‘When you’re in Haiti, I consider you Haitian,’ he says. ‘It’s up to us, we have to put our heads together to do development.’

From that point on, there is no turning back. It becomes evident that The Road to Fondwa is not a one-way street, but rather a conduit between two very different, yet intricately connected nations.

The Filmmakers:

Watch the “Meet the Filmmakers” extra feature from the DVD:

Justin Brandon is a filmmaker/actor living in Los Angeles, CA. Originally from South Bend, IN he graduated cum laude from the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame in 2004.  After spending several months as a public relations volunteer at “La Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico,” Justin returned to the US to Associate Produce the 2005 season of Irish Weekly, a show which followed the Fighting Irish football team at The University of Notre Dame. He made his first short film in 2006, a documentary called The Volta Youth Project.  The film has been used to acquire funding and supplies for education projects in the Volta Region of Ghana.

Justin has also worked at Google and BetterWorld.com.  He wishes he could surf better and hopes to meet Jack Johnson someday.

**Be sure to check out Justin’s account of “The Making of The Road to Fondwa”

Contact: justin [at] fondwa.org

Brian McElroy.  After graduating from The University of Notre Dame in 2005, Brian volunteered for one year as the Secretary of the University of Fondwa. He has worked with Haitian communities in Paris, New York, the Dominican Republic, and Florida, speaks Creole, French, and Spanish, and has developed extensive personal relationships with students, nuns, priests, pastors, volunteers, and peasants throughout the Fondwa valley and in other areas of Haiti.

He co-founded the UNIF USA Foundation to support the ongoing work of the University of Fondwa, and served as the organization’s first Executive Director.

Brian moved to Brazil after reading “The Four Hour Work Week” and has never looked back.

Dan Schnorr, a 2005 graduate of The University of Notre Dame, is currently a student at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.  Between Notre Dame and Columbia he spent a year in Fondwa, Haiti as a professor at the University of Fondwa.  He taught the first ever university-level Immunology and Genetics classes in Haitian Kreyol (other schools instruct only in French, which is not widely spoken by Haitian peasants).  While in Haiti he found the time to read “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy and frequently quotes the wisdom from its pages.

Dan has also spent time as a firefighter in Nevada and would like to meet Beyonce one day.

Buy 'The Road to Fondwa' on DVD

Directors’ Statement, Written by Dan Schnorr:

How to capture a community in 40 minutes of film?

Five weeks of filming in Haiti followed by countless hours spent editing nearly 50 hours of footage have shown me and my fellow filmmakers that this is an impossible task.

Which shots most succinctly depict the breathtaking beauty of the Haitian countryside, or the crushing poverty ubiquitous to life in one of the world’s poorest nations?

Which interviews most accurately portray the lifestyle and mindset of the people we encountered during production?

Though film offers a powerful medium through which to begin exploring rural Haiti, no collection of clips could ever do full justice to the intricate obstacles faced by the people living there, or to the exciting measures being undertaken in villages like Fondwa to overcome them.

Acknowledging this, we intend for The Road to Fondwa to serve not as a conclusion, but rather as an introduction.

Our aim is to present viewers with a glimpse of what life is really like for many of the people living only a few hundred miles outside of the United States’ borders, and to provide background from which to build an understanding of the issues contributing to that reality.

What the viewer does with this information is up to him or her.

We hope that the film will inspire some people to learn more about Haiti and to become active in supporting the development of Fondwa and the building of the University of Fondwa, Haiti’s first rural University.

Furthermore, though this documentary focuses on one village, the ideas presented have broader implications for anyone interested in development issues. I am sure those who have worked in any developing country will find points of overlap with the problems afflicting rural Haiti.

Ultimately, some of the strategies being implemented in Fondwa may have application in other parts of the developing world.

Lastly, the film is meant to serve as a tribute to the spirit and innovation of the people of Fondwa, with whom I spent one year of my life. Theirs is truly a story worth telling.

Buy 'The Road to Fondwa' on DVD

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