Review - Canadian Film Programmes Blog

From the Canadian Film Programmes Blog

September 11, 2008
UNDER RICH EARTH: AN OUTSTANDING WORK OF HARD JOURNALISM

The Canadian Film Programme is exceptionally good at illustrating why Canada is such an amazing country. One night I’m getting a taste of rural Quebec in the 1960’s, the next I get a sense of what life is like for a drunken poet in Newfoundland, over the weekend it was Inuit life in the 1840’s.

However, films like Under Rich Earth prove programmers aren’t afraid of selections critical of Canadian entities like Ascendant Copper.

It’s the inspiring tale of Ecuadorian villagers who simply want to say no to a Canadian junior mining interest (Ascendant, who recently changed their name,  takes on difficult opportunities, and when they show promise, sell to major congolmerates) that wants to exploit their pristine wilderness. The people burn down an initial mining site and this prompts mining-magnates to fire back with paramilitary force.

They underestimate their opponents’ intelligence. The film’s subjects are savvy enough to record every altercation from every angle, so when the rich mining interests blatantly lie, viewers of Malcom Rogge’s film are perfectly aware just what type of dishonest creeps they are.

Besides being an eye opening glimpse of the heartless, or perhaps more fairly, ignorant nature of big business, Under Rich Earth is also an inspiring tale of how a small community can fight exploitive, wealthy enemies and win without violence.

These types of stories interest me. I read the World section of the newspaper. But I had never heard of this conflict, and to be honest, reading about it probably wouldn’t inspire much emotion in me.

Rogge’s broad examination provides the necessary context to truly understand an issue reflective of a major world trend of aggressive, uncaring globalization that has no qualms taking from a society while giving nothing back.

They have the appropriate paperwork and an ability to spin the situation for the small minority of reporters who actually focus on difficult issues rather than slowly rotting at their gross desks, reading wire stories and drinking coffee for 90 to 95% of their meaningless day. So why should Ascendant Copper care so long as the dividends keep pouring in? They don’t. So these dedicated, down-to-earth people stood up to them.

That’s why it’s satisfying to watch a film like Rogge’s. He cares so much about his subjects he broke down sobbing while reading an email from one. This is one for the good guys.

“An indictment of governmental largesse, environmental exploitation and corporate greed, Under Rich Earth is urgent and vital filmmaking in the spirit of past Festival favourites like Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and Manufactured Landscapes. Emotionally gripping and politically motivating, Under Rich Earth exposes the truth – not just about what happened that singular day, but also about just how pervasive such stories are on our planet today,” writes Jesse Wente in his program note.

Tickets are still available for the two remaining screenings: Today at 2:45 and Saturday at 3:30 pm both at AMC.

Read the review by Michael Sauve on the TIFF website

 

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