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Cameraman shares documentary, insight with NHS students

Joe Jones answers students questions at Newton High School Friday afternoon. He was in town to show his documentary "LAKAY" which is about the earthquake in Haiti.
Joe Jones answers students questions at Newton High School Friday afternoon. He was in town to show his documentary "LAKAY" which is about the earthquake in Haiti.

Joe Jones remembers the first time he met “LAKAY” star Tirf Alexius. Jones said they were both in a project together at Columbia University in Chicago, where Jones was doing his graduate work. They ran into each other a decade later with Alexius saying he wanted Jones to help him with a documentary on the earthquake in Haiti.

Jones had to move his schedule around to be able to go on the trip since the crew was leaving for Port Au Prince the next week. He was able to go and shoot “LAKAY,” a documentary centering on Alexius and his brother Remoh Romeo as they go to Haiti to find their brothers after the earthquake.

Before showing the documentary to a group of Newton High School students on Friday, Jones thanked student organizers who made it possible for him to come to the school, and after showing the documentary, Jones hosted a question and answer segment.

Students right away mentioned how upbeat the Haitian people were as they tried to rebuild.

Jones said it was amazing to see how strong the people were since they had no clean water and the hospitals were overflowing.

“We learned that they stuck together in such a way and we tried to capture that,” Jones said.

Jones also gave some insight to the students about their favorite scenes. One scene in the film was in a car and everyone in the car was talking about how hard it was to adapt to the country. He said when they first got in country, a cousin of Alexius’s allowed the crew to stay at her house. While it was one of the nicer houses, it had a shower with poor water pressure so the water dripped out, rodents and bugs were everywhere and the house itself ran on a generator, making charging the camera’s difficult. They later found an operational hotel attached to a hospital which fit their needs.

Scenes the students said they enjoyed included the crew taking a break and playing soccer with local children, a scene where Alexius was dancing with an older woman and when one of their cars broke down on the side of a mountain.

The mountain scene is where Jones showed another glimpse behind the scenes. He said in Haiti, the rules of the road are different, to American eyes they do not exist. The car was being driven by a man named Jonas who served as security for the crew.

“Jonas for some reason felt the need to go 80 miles per hour, and whenever a car would show up he would slam on the brakes,” Jones said. Over time, the stress became too much on the car and it broke down. He said they managed to flag a truck down with a man who happened to be a mechanic, and he was able to help them back on the road.

Nathan Miller, a student at Newton High School and one of the organizers of the event, said he got an email from a fellow student and point person on the project, Courtney Ingle to participate in getting Jones to the campus. Miller said it was great to get him since it helps students see something they usually do not get to and it helps to bring their lessons alive.

“It really gets the kids to interact with what they are learning in school,” Miller said.

He said what Jones was talking about goes with what the school’s sociology and history classes are teaching.

Ingle said she was the main organizer and a teacher reached out to her to find students who are good representatives of the school to help her out. She went back and forth with Jones to set up a time he can come down and talk to high school students in their classes.

At the high school, Jones went to a U.S. History class to describe what it was like to see history in the making and visited with students interested in public speaking about communicating with people who don’t share the same language. He rounded out his visit by talking with Sociology students about social norms in Haiti and a photojournalism class to talk about shooting the documentary.

Contact Samuel Nusbaum at
641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or

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