LOS ANGELES, (Reuters Life!) – After the devastating earthquake rocked Haiti earlier this year, food and medical aid poured into the island country, but in the months that followed a pair of Hollywood actresses and their friends had another idea. They wanted to build a movie theatre.
It may seem like a far-fetched notion, but since it opened in September, the Sun City Picture House has become a place that generates smiles on the faces of children and adults. It also has been used as a community center and school, and it helped spawned two similar buildings in different camps.
Maria Bello, who starred Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups,” and “Tron” actress Olivia Wilde, have documented the efforts of the group of people that brought the theater to life in a new, short documentary they expect to screen at festivals throughout the upcoming year.
“The thing that’s needed most in Haiti right now, besides the immediate relief efforts, is joy. And that’s what this movie is about,” Bello told Reuters.
The movie, “Sun City Picture House,” focuses on Haitian aid worker Raphael Louigene — whose dream was to build a movie theatre — and the two American aid workers who helped him realize that dream by constructing it in just four days: Bryn Mooser from Artists for Peace and Justice, and Dave Darg, who works for Operation Blessing.
Darg directed the documentary. Mooser produced, and they hired a student from Haiti’s only film school, Cine Institute, to shoot it.
Bello, 43, and Wilde, 26, both advisory board members of Artists for Peace and Justice, had volunteered in Haiti before January’s earthquake, and even then, theatres were in short supply. Wilde remembers one night standing with “40 or so Haitians as we projected ‘Home Alone’ onto a sheet slung over a wall, creating an impromptu late-night outdoor theater smack in the middle of the slums known as Cite Soleil, or Sun City.”
Watching their faces in the light from a projector was an important moment for Wilde. “That’s when I understood the need for an Artist for Peace and Justice Film Project,” she said.
The Sun City theatre project came to fruition when, during their earthquake relief work, Louigene shared his dream of building a theater, and Darg and Mooser said they would help.