We Are & The Devil Operation

    3 May 2010, early morning

It will take more than a broken leg to keep me away from HotDocs. My favourite film festival in Toronto started this past Thursday. Shima, Riadh, and I attended our first screening on Friday; we watched The Devil Operation, which was screening with We Are.

The first film was a short by Kevin Papatie. Each scene begins with the narrator whispering a tie between the Natives and nature; for example, “We are the air.” In contrast to this narration, a young Native boy was filmed in front of corresponding scenes of decay: a factory polluting the air, clear cut trees, a broken home, etc. I think it’s hard to make a 3-minute long film that manages to make a point; this film certainly does.

The second film was the one we were all interested in seeing. The Devil Operation is a look at the conflict between Peruvian farmers and a foreign mining company. The film’s main protagonist is Father Marco Arana. At the start of the film he is mediating a dispute between the locals and the mining company, ultimately securing a win for the locals. As the film proceeds we learn about the costs he (and others) have to pay for defending a mountain from foreign interests. The film is a good overview of what’s going on in Peru with respect to mining and the gold industry. It’s always inspiring watching these stories about people doing important human rights work in countries where doing so puts you in very real danger. The director, Stephanie Boyd, has lived in Peru for 13 odd years now, and has made several films about the country. I enjoyed the film, but thought it might have been too sprawling. Boyd covers several stories, all related to mining, but not quite related to each other. I don’t know if something more focused would have worked better. Regardless, I think the film is well worth watching.

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