A version of the film showed at IDFA 2010

Haitians have had enough of foreign organizations that promise a lot but deliver little -- including the UN. The peacekeeping force, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, has killed gang leaders in the poorest neighborhoods and achieved relative peace, but on the streets they have a reputation for doing nothing. The filmmaker, Rachel Smith, goes to the shantytown of Cite Soleil and follows Enock, a pastor and community leader. In exchange, he secures the promise of her help. Smith follows a Brazilian UN soldier and -- as they work within the mission, toward its mandate for security and stability an American officer, and as she tries to square the mission's bad reputation with the people who fill its ranks, she identifies an officer who might be able to help Enock's community. Competing accounts of MINUSTAH's interventions in Cite Soleil arise, and as Smith keeps visiting the neighborhood, her role there becomes more complex. More requests are made of her, and she finds there are some places where she's not welcome. A historic earthquake hits Haiti in 2010 and Smith returns, tracing what has changed -- and what remains the same.

"...human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their ignorance of the misuse." -- Robert Wright

MINUSTAH Steals Goats is a story about Haiti in the years preceding the January 12, 2010 earthquake. It is also a story about outsiders, told from the point of view of the filmmaker, Rachel Smith, an outsider who goes to Haiti with a video camera.

"You need a driver so you can leave quickly if things blow up," is what Rachel is told when she says she wants to go to Cite Soleil -- an area infamous for gang violence. With Peter, a Haitian driver, as her guide, Rachel begins to follow Enock, elected president of a community organization in the slum of Cite Soleil. He seeks development aid for his neighborhood, but even as he finds avenues for help, assistance that should be available is unreachable, or insufficient.

The politics of aid -- who gives it, who receives it, what form it takes -- complicate Enock's position as the representative of an intensely impoverished community. It becomes clear that in the act of documenting this neighborhood, the filmmaker herself makes an impossible contract with its residents; implicit in showing the condition of their lives to the first world is the promise that someone will change things.

Meanwhile, Rachel shadows two United Nations peacekeepers -- Chris (an American officer), and Marcos (a Brazilian soldier) -- as they work within the mission, toward its mandate for security and stability in Haiti. Chris packs up at his temporary home, the Hotel Ibolele, getting ready to pass the torch to his replacement. Marcos patrols Cite Soleil, which has begun to enjoy a tenuous moment of calm.

Haiti, overall seems calm. Through interviews with Hedi Anabi, head of the UN mission (2007-2010), with independent journalist, Reed Lindsay, and through his original archival footage, the film looks into the country's climate in 2004 when the UN was first deployed. Gradually, the local politics and codes of behavior between peacekeepers -- or outsiders as a whole -- and locals become more complex.

Can peace exist in the midst of poverty? At what point does an outsider understand the nuances of a place enough to help? How does a person -- or an organization -- draw the line where their responsibility ends? And what are the consequences?

"Someday Haiti is gonna get better," Peter says, dragging on his cigarette in the film crew apartment. "Haiti -- she is my sweetest woman."

January 12, 2010, the earthquake hits Haiti. Rachel returns to Cite Soleil and to the UN.

Written, Directed and Produced by
Rachel Smith
Jillian Schlesinger
Leslie Norville
Executive Producers
Alan Kurz
Eric Barkan
Gail Bankovich
Tony Gannon
Director of Photography
Andre Lambertson
Vinci Jean-Baptiste
Ted Gannon
Rachel Smith
Additional Camera
Rachel Smith
Pierre "Peter" Yves-Laroche
Location Translator & Fixer
Herby Metellus
Location Transportation & Fixer
Pierre "Peter" Yves-Laroche
Office Translators
Berlotte Israel
James Lareche
Herve Sabin
Yvens Riviere
Assistant Editors
Azeo Fables
Mary Brownlee
Jessica Bradford
Adam Wissing
Post-Production Sound Mixer
James von Buelow at Screamtank
Post-Production Sound Coordinator
Mark Spano
Ryan Dunn & Wyeth Hansen at Labour
Creative Consultant
Adolfo Profumo
Story Development Consultant
Luke Mayes
Technical Support & Web Design
Sam Anderson
Milla Bell-Hart
Lauren Estella
Nathaniel Cunningham
Jay Shapiro
This film was made possible in part by
a grant from the Jerome Foundation
and was produced with the support of
The New York State Council on the Arts
the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media at the Funding Exchange
the English Department at the University of Mississippi
a Student Development Grant from the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Mississippi
MINUSTAH vole kabrit
is a sponsored project of IFP (www.ifp.org)

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