La Flor del Mangle / The Flower of the Mangrove
Script and direction: Martha Luz Machado Caicedo
La Flor del Mangle, filmed in the province of Nariño -Pacific Coast of Colombia, is a documentary that by focusing on the hard work of the communities living in areas of mangrove captures the difficulties they face everyday. The film narrates the problem with the expansion of the extensive economies and how these communities fight to preserve their lives rejecting the overwhelming empowering of these economies.
In the pacific Littoral, life for the African descendents goes in two forms of uncertainty. The first comes from the permanent changes that nature brings as tidal waves, strong electric torments, flooding, and earthquakes.
The second one of human origin, relates to the national and international market demand for natural resources as gold, tannin, oil, fish, palm tree, germoplasma and biodiversity, setting the communities to a constant changing situation. As a result the Afro-descendents are forced to move from their agricultural, fishing and mining locations to work in areas where formal companies as in food industry employ them. Unfortunately these hard workers often return with their hands empty do to the financial failure of some of these companies. Nevertheless these communities of the pacific littoral respond with their strong survival skills and incredible creativity to these challenges.
The African enslaved, the ancestors, built an heroic autonomous future even during colonization times when a variety of companies looked for the exploitation of gold, tannin, shrimp, wood, palm tree oils, and even plant biodiversity.
‘Los Libres’ - the free as they named themselves - took refuge inside the jungle where they built their freedom. Gold mining was an activity that helped them create their autonomy, together with a diversity of chores that came from the traditional way of production. The enslaved confronted the unpredictable and rebel environment of the pacific littoral while in the middle of a cruel slavery and developed skills to fish in the ocean and rivers, worked the land around the shores and the mangrove swamp, experience mining etc. These survival skills were a way to earn their living but also an alternative to their freedom. Today all these improved abilities are the actual tools used by these communities to mend the desolation brought by the economies of modern times in their land and to their resources.
With the purpose of knowing the history of her country Colombia, Machado Caicedo has taken the story of the people in the mangrove as an economic system that helped the Afro-descendents living for centuries in theColombianPacificCoast. The daily life plenty of survival skills matured by the Afro-descendents is also an indication of their identity.
Through the years the various governments in Colombiahave excluded and forgot these communities, their human rights violated. La Flor del Mangle was born to tell the strength and courage of these groups of peasants, miners, fisherman, shell and wood collectors that continue their fight for their autonomy!