On the night of the Haiti earthquake something happened in downtown Port au Prince - the Haitian capital - which would leave the fate of all the aid efforts and the country's future hanging in the balance: 4,500 prisoners escaped from Haiti's terrifying and overcrowded prison, the National Penitentiary.
They included many of the hardcore criminals, kidnappers and gang bosses who'd reduced Haiti to anarchy from 2004 to 2007, but had then been subdued after an all-out military onslaught by the police and heavily-armed UN peacekeepers. Now they were free to regain control of the slums and the tent cities where most Haitians live, using murder and rape to enforce their rule, with Haiti more vulnerable and less well-policed than ever before.
Helping battle the escaped gangsters is Mario Andresol, Haiti's police chief, who put many of them in prison in the first place. At great personal risk, he played a key role in the United Nations offensive that smashed the power of the gangs. Now, four years later, he has to do it all again.
BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed captures the daily battle for Haiti's future, filming with Andresol, escaped gangsters, the beleaguered special police unit that's trying to capture them, UN peacekeepers, and the despairing and philosophical inhabitants of the slums and tent cities.
January 9, 2011
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