The Making of the Documentary “Madan Sara”
By Maxwell Robinette, Associate Editor
Maxwell Robinette, Associate Editor of Redhawk Post, recently spoke with Street Team Productions Executive Lulaine Childs in a follow up interview about the making of the “Madan Sara” documentary. Childs served as Co-Executive Producer on the film.
The Post reached out to director Etant Dupain for comment and received no response. Childs worked closely with Mr. Dupain and spoke about his breadth of knowledge of the film.
Childs spoke about the filming process, the inspirations for the film, Haiti’s turbulent social and political landscape, and future plans for Street Team Productions.
The interview took place on October 8 over Zoom.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the film? What made you feel the need to tell the world about the Madan Sara?
A: Etant’s mother was a Madan Sara, so he had an experience growing up around that, and knew it pretty well. He’s also a journalist, so he took those skills and that attitude and applied it to shining light on the struggles of the Madan Sara. So it was really a combination of those two things: the personal connection and the journalistic drive. The Madan Sara are ignored by almost everybody in Haiti, and Etant and the film team wanted to do something that changed that. They started by going to marketplaces and interviewing people, and the project grew from there. I came on a little later in the process.
Q: How long did it take to film?
A: It took around five years, from 2014 to 2019. So in the movie, the interviews in the beginning are five years apart from the interviews at the end. We struggled with funding–the usual struggles of independent filmmakers. So it came together piece by piece. We always had different things going on while we searched for funding, and sometimes it felt like it moved slowly. But we somehow pulled it together in the end.
Q: What was it like working with renowned novelist Edwidge Danticat?
A: I never actually got to meet her. Etant met her while reporting in the Dominican Republic and they connected. She was actually part of the first screening of the film, and spoke on the discussion panel, at the University of California. But yes, it’s pretty cool to have a famous novelist be a part of the film and speak for it too.
Q: Haiti’s faced some crazy and heartbreaking events since the production of the film: an earthquake, a hurricane, a presidential assassination, migrants fleeing to the US… what is Haiti like right now?
A: There’s lots of insecurity. Everything’s a gamble. On the Madan Sara specifically, just getting up and working every day, doing their jobs, is like gambling with their lives and livelihoods. There’s a certain lawlessness right now, and waking up at two-thirty, three A.M. to walk unprotection country roads–they’re essentially walking targets. But President Moïse’s assassination, the earthquake, the hurricane was a whirlwind of disaster. It’s been detrimental. People can’t do commerce, and they’re struggling because of it.
Q: How can people help Haiti and the Madan Sara right now?
A: There are lots of feminist groups and relief funds that people can donate to. Like I said, people can’t work, it’s a small economy, so Haitian people need access to money to survive and rebuild. UNICEF, Health Equity International, The Haitian Health Foundation, and Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund are all good places to start. Also, I encourage people to support the journalists working in Haiti. There are a ton of hardworking writers and reporters trying to get Haiti’s issues out in the world, so whenever people can, they should read their work. The Haitian Times and Haiti Progres are good sources to start with.
Q: Any future plans for Street Team Productions?
A: Etant is always busy. He travels a lot and works with a lot of different organizations. He plans on starting a new documentary on corruption in Haiti pretty soon though. I’m actually starting a new film myself about Haiti’s 1974 World Cup Team. I’m pretty excited about getting that ball rolling.