For the last few weeks, we here at Mazibel have had a lot of irons in the fire. We are currently in development on three projects simultaneously: two in Haiti that are slated for production later this year, and one in the UK that starts production in just two weeks.
Emily has been back in Haiti for the last ten days working with some incredibly talented artists in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince, developing the Art Direction for Passaj Anba Dlo-a or On the Backs of Mermaids – a short film about the passage from life to death as observed by Vodouisants. We have had the great privilege to work with internationally acclaimed Vodou flag maker Myrlande Constant, who has made five unique pieces for us, and to work once again with the artists at Grand Rue – E Pluribus Unum and the Atis-Rezistans – in designing the essential Ghede sequence, featuring Alexi Ducarmel as Bawon Samdi. The artists have made a series of masks for us, which they will wear in the extremely stylized Ghede sequence, showing the dance of Bawon Samdi and his wife Gran Brigitte as they are surrounded by the Ghede – the only lwa or Vodou spirits to have once lived as human beings. They are delightfully creepy, made of broken mirrors, recycled oil containers and car tires, and we think they will contribute a curious edge to the film – referencing as they do the process of spiritual recycling as each person passes through the sixteen phases of life as a human in the Vodou faith.
Emily and long time collaborator Sean Roubens Jean Sacra (Serge to us) have also been in the North of Haiti researching material for our upcoming documentary on Bwa Kayiman, the site of the origin of the Haitian Revolution that lead the slaves imported by the French against their colonial ‘masters’ to independence, and set a precedent for the rest of the free world to resist the exploitative influences of colonialism, and to break the fetters of slavery. Sadly, one of our key sources and collaborators, Zaza, the Houng’an or Vodou priest in charge of the peristyle at Bwa Kayiman, has recently been imprisoned for reasons that have yet to be made clear. The charges appear to be related to a dispute over land, but there is a more obtuse political undercurrent to his arrest, and its coincidence with the recent amendments to the Haitian constitution that have stripped the rights of Vodouisants and rural landowners to protection under Haitian law. After visiting with Zaza in prison, and discussing the details of his arrest and detention with those involved, we are confident that he will be released and will continue to do good work in maintaining the historic site, and providing the community with a central hub, and we look forward to continue working together once he has been reunited with his family.
While Emily has been in Haiti, Geoffrey has been hard at work organizing our next project, entitled ‘The Mawkin‘ which will take us back to the Kent coast and its shingle beaches, and to some new territory in Suffolk. We are currently in conversation with the National Trust, Suffolk Council, and the Dungeness Estate Trust, strategizing our next shoot. This new project will take us into the abandoned nuclear test site at Orford Ness, where we will combine the mediaeval story of the Merman of Orford with a cautionary tale derived from a Ballardian apocalyptic near-future in which the earth walkers and sea dwellers are at odds with one another once again. We have been lucky enough to work with writer and storyteller Robin Herne on this project.