The Grupo Puntacana Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established in 1994 to protect and preserve the natural resources of the Punta Cana region and contribute to the sustainable development of the Dominican Republic.
With exquisite cinematography, Death by a Thousand Cuts film uses the character-driven murder investigation on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to unpack the broader exigent issues of deforestation, the illegal wood charcoal trade and rising xenophobic tensions between the two countries.
The film uncovers how the lives of Dominicans and Haitians at the border are enveloped in a complex web of relationships that reflect a mutual dependence on the illicit production and trafficking of charcoal. The film spans an investigation starting in the lowlands of the Dominican Republic into the mountain forests along the border to the charcoal markets on the Haitian side and on to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The film uses the personal as polemic; closely following the murder of a Dominican park ranger allegedly killed by a Haitian charcoal producer, the film explores the families affected and the complexities of the case. The film depicts a complex and growing conflict emerging between the Dominican Republic and Haiti; a case emblematic of the global struggles over depleting natural resources and prevention of human conflict.
After five years of production, the film had its World Premiere at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto in Competition and our US Premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, where we won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.
Some of the other upcoming festivals include: Milwaukee, DocsDF (now DocsMX), Raindance, DOC NYC, Denver, New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale and Thessaloniki.
The film was acquired by Participant Media and Univision.
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Jake has worked on both sides of the camera—directing, producing, hosting and narrating. Here’s a selection of some of his work.