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As a Cholera epidemic rages in Haiti, the United Nations denies it is responsible for introducing the disease despite glaring evidence suggesting Nepalese peacekeepers are to blame. Baseball in the Time of Cholera is the story of a young Haitian boy who plays in Haiti's first little league baseball team and the Haitian Lawyer seeking justice against the UN. As the epidemic spreads, the two stories intersect in the struggle for survival and justice. Written by
Wastes great access, emotive material and a worthy cause
With the country already on its knees from the earthquake, an outbreak of cholera caused even more deaths and, although it was never proved, it was suggested that the source was sewage from the base of Nepalese soldiers working for the UN. This film explores this story while also following the story of Joseph, a Haitian boy who loves his life, his family and baseball. It is a good mix for a documentary because the natural structure gives you the chance to explain the scale of the problem but also to put a specific face to it, thus making it more engaging and moving. So why then does the film fail so spectacularly to do that?
I wish I had an easy answer because I reached the end of the film genuinely surprised by how botched the job seemed to be throughout. With the access, the story, the right choice of subject in the warm Joseph and family (and specifics of his story) it seemed like an open goal to get the most from it but the telling of the story is off. We muddle around in some politics and scandal, then we see Toronto, then have a personal face, then we have a law-suit. The story doesn't flow through these things and, although they are of course connected, the film seems to be doing its best to fragment them. So what we get is a real lack of journalistic sharpness and instead it is replaced by a good heart. This "good heart" does try to tell us how to support the cause and also gives some moving footage but it lacks the ability to make a really compelling film.
It is not a terrible film but it is made worse by the potential to do so much better with such a topic, subject and level of access. The story deserves to be told, but deserves to be told better than this.
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