The documentary 'Once Upon a Time in Venzuela' depicts the troubles a dying Venezuelan village endures.

Documentary maker Anabel Rodríguez Ríos tells the story of the village Congo Mirador. Seven years she visited the village. It used to be surrounded by the water of lake Maracaibo. But that's not the case anymore. The village is silting up, which is a drama for the fishermen who are dependent of the fresh water. Sedimentation brings also rats and other pests, and undermines the hygiene in the village. And the nearby oil industry kills the fish population.

The village people are unhappy, and leaving.


Beside the environmental problems, Congo Mirador has also its part of colorful village politics. The Chavistas are trying to rescue the village and win the election. Maybe they want the best for the village (and themselves...), but they use very dubious practices. Votes are being bought, promises are made but not kept, and opposition people are chased away.

Rodríguez Ríos isn't drawing a rosy picture of the heirs of the Bolivarian revolution initiated by Hugo Chavez.

The documentary is beautiful. The scenery is gorgeous. The people captivating. And the filmography is stunning. Moreover, there's a story worth watching.

I saw the documentary with De Groene Amsterdammer. It reminded me of the sinking villages in South East Asia. But in this documentary, the water disappears. The misery, though, is the same.

#venezuela #documentary

The controversial documentary 'Seaspiracy' has been accused of misrepresentation and using erroneous statistics. Still, the documentary itself is a must watch. A lot of problems the fishing industry are struggling with, are touched upon. These are known problems, and it's good that they get a broader audience.

This documentary is not an example of traditional journalism. It tends more to activism. Director Ali Tabrizi explores the worldwide fishing industry and starts his research with whale hunting in Japan. Easy accessible (as a topic, not the whale hunters). But the more he explores the hidden secrets of the seas, the more he is shocked by what the marine industry is causing. And how the industry tries to get away with it. Even labels and self control mechanisms on 'sustainable fishing' are raising questions.

Some of the themes 'Seaspiracy' is covering: plastic marine debris, overfishing, bycatch, the impact of the aquaculture industry, industry labels, even slave labor and human rights abuses on Thai trawlers.

The documentary explain and explore one marine problem after the other. It's a fast pacing film. That's the strength of the doc, but also its flaw. The shock and awe Tabrizi realizes, can easily be set back with critics as “misleading claims” and “using out-of-context interviews”.

Unfortunately for the fishing industry, there's a ton of decent in-depth journalism that goes much deeper into those themes and do find large-scale abuses and problematic consequences of large scale fishing. It aren't fabrications of conspiracies.

For example: last week the expert-journalist Ian Urbina took a critical look at large scale fishmeal factories in Africa. He works very hard at The Outlaw Ocean Project. If you read what he is writing, you can only conclude that parts of the fishing industry is kind of an outlaw industry.

#documentary #fishing