Students and faculty talk with co-prodcuer of award-winning film “Poverty, Inc.”

Alexandra Seibt

Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) Diversity Committee presented the documentary “Poverty, Inc.,” and welcomed the film’s co-producer for a Q&A in Oscar Ritchie hall after the film Tuesday night to discuss the filmmaking process.

“We shot over 200 interviews (with natives of the country) in 20 countries,” said Mark Weber, the documentary’s co-producer. “My main contribution was production for the stories in Haiti.”

Along with explaining the filming process, Weber discussed some of the challenges he encountered while filiming.

“(The) filming process was very interesting because of the tension being a white filmmaker in Haiti,” Weber said. “When we would talk to people, they would express an anger about the way Haiti was being portrayed in the western media, so we would try and take the time to have conversations with people to explain that we were actually trying to tell a different narrative.”

Weber explained that once the people of Haiti understood his intentions, they became more welcoming.

“During that filming process, when we would take that time to explain to people, we would find that they would then want to be our allies and really take us around and tell us all the amazing things that were going on,” Weber said.

The filmmakers documented the Haitians who received the help of big businesses because of the differing view they hold on the help they receive.

“No one in Haiti wants to be a beggar for life,” one of the men in the film said. “You know what poor people get? A poor image.”

The film opened with a quote from Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian Renaissance historian, which helped explain the issues with the global aid system.

“The reason there will be no change is because the people who stand to lose from change have all the power. And the people who stand to gain from change have none of the power,” Machiavelli was quoted in the film.

Abigail Recker, a senior early childhood education major, said she the film helped her better understand poverty on an international level.

“I learned that it’s really important to look critically at the places that you support. It’s important to remember that everyone’s capable of things and it’s not our job to raise someone up to as good as us or seeing them as less than us,” Recker said. “It taught me more about poverty in an international sense and it really challenged me to think about how the things that are going on internationally also affect our own country and things that are happening right here.”

The documentary has earned 40 international film festival honors and has screenings at many different universities across the nation, according to the website.

Rynell Parnell, a sports management graduate student, said the film prompted him to think more about what goes on outside of the United States when it comes to poverty.

“There’s so many things you can take away from that (the film),” Parnell said.“When you look at poverty and where it’s at in the world today, it’s just something you don’t really think about.”

Alexandra Seibt is the EHHS reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]