Adventure Video of the Week: Baseball in the Time of Cholera

May 9, 2012
Outside Magazine

Mountainfilm in Telluride recently announced their stable of films for 2012. One of the documentaries, Baseball in the Time of Cholera, makes a great case for telling one individual's story to get at a bigger issue.

The filmmakers behind the movie, David Darg and Bryn Mooser, started out documenting youth baseball in Haiti. They had come to the country in 2010 to work in the tents after the earthquake. As a break, for themselves and the local children, they started coaching a baseball team. As they began to film the team, a boy's mother died of cholera. During their days in the tents, they saw the disease ravage the people. They quickly shifted their focus onto the boy, Joseph Alvyns.

Meet the team in the video above.

Here is what the filmmakers said about the decision in The Wall Street Journal:

As we coached the baseball players, their progress as a team was growing in parallel to the spread of this horrific disease in their country. We would spend our days working in cholera treatment centers and installing water purification systems in the fight against cholera and in the evenings our escape was to play baseball with the boys. Then one day, those two worlds collided when Joseph’s mother contracted cholera and died. We were all close to her. She worked with David’s wife on a jewelry project and it sent shockwaves through our community. Suddenly our film about the baseball team seemed almost insignificant. We also realized we had all this footage from our work with cholera in addition to our baseball footage, and we made the decision to expose the tragedy of this crisis with baseball as the narrative.

Our film aims to ‘put a face’ on the epidemic. Instead of lecturing that cholera kiled thousands of people, we want to show the viewer what cholera has done to one boy and his family. And most of all, we want people to realize that the cholera epidemic is not the fault of the Haitian people. It was brought to Haiti by foreigners and despite very clear evidence pointing towards the United Nations as the carrier, the U.N. still denies responsibility for the outbreak.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed more than 7,000 people and sickened more than 500,000. It is believed to have started when a faulty sanitation system allowed the disease to move from a U.N. peacekeeping station into the local water supply. Incidence of the disease has fluctuated, but with the rainy season coming, there are concerns about another outbreak.

--Joe Spring

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