“The more it is able to move the soul, the more important cinema becomes. The emotions, the feelings that emanate from the screen are what delimit its ability to mold, to enrich and bring about learning – they are what make us change and reflect on the reality that surrounds us.” – Andrei Tarkovsky
By Arielka Juarez
HAVANA TIMES — “We’re like a tree that grows and ages until it dies, laying a seed that begins to grow again. That’s what we are.”
The film, which at the beginning appears to be a documentary about the life of a community in touch with mother earth and threatened by a government project aimed at industrial and economic development, opens with this phrase.
The movie, however, is more than what it appears to be on the surface: more than a demand for the voices of the community to be heard, it is a call to acknowledge and assume the new developmental paradigm through modern awareness. The documentary was shot on video using three cameras, at different moments and places, by a group of young volunteers interested on the subject.
Bangkukuk is a cozy, paradisiacal place for its inhabitants, who have inherited the joy of an authentic life from earlier generations. It may sound utopian, but, if you pay attention to the details highlighted by the documentary, you will come across things that will make you doubt your perception of happiness and development.
Capturing the richness of our country – its natural and cultural beauty – the documentary bestows us with beautiful landscapes and, through the testimonies of those interviewed (all community leaders), we hear the community’s position on the canal project in the rama and creole languages.
The music that accompanies the testimonies and the information on the execution of this mega project fades in and out with the images to involve us in the emotions of the community, which urges us “not to confuse its silence with ignorance, its tranquility with resignation or its kindness with weakness.”
They make it clear that they live as they do because they are in love with the life they know, not because they have no other choice.
Of all the things this film defends and questions through its characters and the views of the filmmakers, we must stop to consider the ecological message it leaves us with, which goes beyond the old motif of the lost paradise to bring up the problem of the relationship between man and nature and society and development.
It invites us to ask us why the decision to maintain life in Bangkukuk as it is and has been for many years should be like watching soap bubbles burst for the members of the community. It is a question without an answer that leaves the community feeling impotent.
How, then, are we able to talk about development if we’re not looking after our natural and cultural heritage? How can we speak about development if we can be passive witnesses to the extinction of our local cultures?
Those, I believe, are the questions the Bangkukuk poses to viewers, beyond its defense of indigenous populations and the seductiveness of its imagery.
I hope you’ll enjoy it and identify with the essense of the film.