Home Arts When They Want What You Have, They Get Dirty

When They Want What You Have, They Get Dirty

by Archives February 17, 2009

Next Monday Cinema Politica rolls on despite the break. Screening is Under Rich Earth, a film about Intag, a lush Ecuadorian Valley that’s rich soil just so happens to be located right on top of profitable copper deposits.
Directed by Malcome Rogge after his many years spent in Ecuador, the film gingerly steps along the paths of this river valley as it becomes increasingly trampled by foreign mining interests and downright dirty persuasion tactics.
Blessed and cursed, the humble valley families are torn by the prospect of added capital from the mines despite the possibility that they could lose their pleasant existence.
The culprit just happens to be Canadian, a company called Ascendant Copper, and they can’t seem to take no for an answer. Many Ecuadorian locals are mobilized against the project under DECOIN, a grass-roots initiative that is all about keeping the ground intact. DECOIN has pushed miners out before and they’re on the right side of the law, but each push is answered by even more conniving reactions.
At first, Ascendant Copper plays nice: the company provides what they call “community aid” in the form of chickens and feed.
“We don’t need chickens, we already have chickens,” a farmer points out, exemplifying that the community is doing just fine without the company’s intrusion.
The company promises to bring jobs and educational opportunities, and although these are very modern and promising, the village seems quite comfortable in its simple ways, without a care in the world – a luxury our
modern ways can’t provide.
When this doesn’t work, that’s when things get ugly.
It’s obvious Ascendant Copper wanted to entice protest, leading to violence and hopefully murder by the locals. They plant security agents in the valley, dressed as military officers to try and spark a bloody reaction so they can make the locals look like the bad guys.
The locals prove more cunning, and as the company’s relentless ways get worse and worse, the community reaches inward for support and in doing so, reignite pride for their land.
The film is well shot but poorly paced. At points its slow-but-steady style becomes a hard-fought exercise in concentration. That said, the story is compelling enough to make you pay close attention, but you can’t help but wish things would pick up.
As for the film’s main point, it’s pushed through from beginning to end: the farmers of the valley have all they need; it’s right in front of them, and the ill affects of the company far outweigh the payback.
Executives in Toronto convincingly deny ever knowing this was going on in Intag, even if they were footing the bill. How can they be responsible with a region they have no physical connection with?
Under Rich Earth goes a bit long, but surveys the issue satisfyingly.
Life as it stands in the valley has no need for copper, they have something special that many in the world would envy if they ever had the chance to watch over the fruits of their existence and live out their years with a like-minded culture that has found their spot under the sun.
If only we were so lucky, so humble and so satisfied.

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