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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining – film review

A review of this multi award-winning Peruvian documentary ahead of a new screening in London...

Written by Zofia Walczak

espalier tree fruit
Illustration by Vanessa Morris

Planting trees is EXHILERATING! So so underrated. Last Saturday I was gardening for the first time in my life at the Community Orchards project, store more about organised by BTCV’s Carbon Army and managed by Camden Council.  I mentioned the project briefly in my Green Gyms feature a couple of weeks ago.  BTCV have 22 dates scheduled to plant ten orchards in housing estates and sheltered housing across Camden. The project’s aim is to promote local interest in food growing and provide the opportunity for community groups to develop communal gardening projects. Gardening and growing your own food is great, as I discovered, and it doesn’t only have to be for people with their own gardens.
CIMG3845

Smiles all round.  (Photo by Chris Speirs)

I went along last Saturday to Taplow Estate in Camden, to witness how the scheme works. Feeling rather worse for wear, I was convinced I’d only stay for an hour or two and then go home to sleep. Being hung-over does not exactly get you in the mood for planting community gardens. Or so I thought. Fast forward to four hours later, and I was feeling energised, ridiculously happy, surrounded by great people, and I’d planted the first tree I’ve ever planted IN MY LIFE! Everyone should try this truly underrated source of pure joy at least once in their lives, however hippy you may previously have thought that sounds. Do it in the name of food democracy, fitness, and plain old happiness. I mean it.
CIMG3839

(Photo by Zofia Walczak)

My first task after I’d met the group of 20-or-so volunteers, who were already busy at work, was to help in the removing of turf from one side of the green area. After this the soil was turned over and mixed with compost to get it ready for planting seeds. It is unbelievable how clueless I felt when I was given a huge heavy spade. Yes, a spade. That humble tool you’d think you’d know how to use. The others were quick to help me though and within two hours I went from total cluelessness to being able to plant a cherry tree, by myself!! My arms and back once again felt like they were getting the best workout they’ve ever had. Goodbye push-ups and weights, hello spades, forks and hoes.
CIMG3841

(Photo by Zofia Walczak)

Lunch was served to us by residents of the estate: delicious homemade soup and fresh baguette. I spoke to one resident, Ian, who explained that the orchard is being created on previously unused green space. He’d been pushing for the creation of garden space on the estate for four years, looking for funding, and is glad the scheme is now finally up and running. Using Taplow Estate in Camden as an example, the local gardening club are already working together to apply for grants to improve other under-utilised green spaces on the estate, and BTCV hope to be able to come back later in the year to give them a helping hand.

CIMG3846

(Photo by Chris Speirs)

The Community Orchards project is being managed by Camden Council, and BTCV’s Carbon Army have been commissioned to co-ordinate and facilitate the events. Camden Council have been canvassing local interest, with the key pre-requisite being that local residents take ownership of their new orchard. The Carbon Army are focusing on engaging as many residents from the local communities as possible in the preparation and planting. Local residents will also be offered follow-up training to ensure they know how to care for, prune and make the most of their new local food resource.

If you want to go along to the next session, check out the website and sign up, everyone is welcome. You won’t regret it one bit, especially on a groggy Saturday morning.
espalier tree fruit
Illustration by Vanessa Morris

Planting trees is EXHILERATING! So so underrated. Last Saturday I was gardening for the first time in my life at the Community Orchards project, ambulance organised by BTCV’s Carbon Army and managed by Camden Council.  I mentioned the project briefly in my Green Gyms feature a couple of weeks ago.  BTCV have 22 dates scheduled to plant ten orchards in housing estates and sheltered housing across Camden. The project’s aim is to promote local interest in food growing and provide the opportunity for community groups to develop communal gardening projects. Gardening and growing your own food is great, as I discovered, and it doesn’t only have to be for people with their own gardens.
CIMG3845

Smiles all round.  Photo by Chris Speirs.

I went along last Saturday to Taplow Estate in Camden, to witness how the scheme works. Feeling rather worse for wear, I was convinced I’d only stay for an hour or two and then go home to sleep. Being hung-over does not exactly get you in the mood for planting community gardens. Or so I thought. Fast forward to four hours later, and I was feeling energised, ridiculously happy, surrounded by great people, and I’d planted the first tree I’ve ever planted IN MY LIFE! Everyone should try this truly underrated source of pure joy at least once in their lives, however hippy you may previously have thought that sounds. Do it in the name of food democracy, fitness, and plain old happiness. I mean it.
CIMG3839

Photo: Zofia Walczak

My first task after I’d met the group of 20-or-so volunteers, who were already busy at work, was to help in the removing of turf from one side of the green area. After this the soil was turned over and mixed with compost to get it ready for planting seeds. It is unbelievable how clueless I felt when I was given a huge heavy spade. Yes, a spade. That humble tool you’d think you’d know how to use. The others were quick to help me though and within two hours I went from total cluelessness to being able to plant a cherry tree, by myself!! My arms and back once again felt like they were getting the best workout they’ve ever had. Goodbye push-ups and weights, hello spades, forks and hoes.
CIMG3841

Photo: Zofia Walczak

Lunch was served to us by residents of the estate: delicious homemade soup and fresh baguette. I spoke to one resident, Ian, who explained that the orchard is being created on previously unused green space. He’d been pushing for the creation of garden space on the estate for four years, looking for funding, and is glad the scheme is now finally up and running. Using Taplow Estate in Camden as an example, the local gardening club are already working together to apply for grants to improve other under-utilised green spaces on the estate, and BTCV hope to be able to come back later in the year to give them a helping hand.

CIMG3846

Photo: Chris Speirs

The Community Orchards project is being managed by Camden Council, and BTCV’s Carbon Army have been commissioned to co-ordinate and facilitate the events. Camden Council have been canvassing local interest, with the key pre-requisite being that local residents take ownership of their new orchard. The Carbon Army are focusing on engaging as many residents from the local communities as possible in the preparation and planting. Local residents will also be offered follow-up training to ensure they know how to care for, prune and make the most of their new local food resource.

If you want to go along to the next session, check out the website and sign up, everyone is welcome. You won’t regret it one bit, especially on a groggy Saturday morning.
pionerosThe San Lorenzo valley before it was transformed into orchards of mango and lime trees.  All images courtesy of Guarango films.

In her recent review of the film Crude, viagra order Amelia acknowledged that the documentary/story of the big corporation destroying lives is something we’ve become shamefully accustomed to.  It’s a huge issue in an age of what seems like information overload.  But in a lecture I attended a few days ago in LSE, buy information pills press freedom scholar and president of the University of Columbia Lee Bollinger reminded us that the more information we have, order the better.  And the truth is that the information we get on what is really going on in the world is still very slight.  Yes we have more information, but we also have extreme censorship and stereotypes to overcome.  And desensitisation can only happen if we let it.
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Tambogrande (2007) tells the story of a farming community in northern Peru, who through decades of hard work had transformed barren, desert lands into a thriving, successful green oasis of fruit trees and crops.  In 1999 Manhattan Minerals, a Canadian Mining company, decided to cash in on the gold deposits discovered underneath the land by planning a kilometre-wide open-pit mine, fully supported by Peru’s then president, Alberto Fujimori.  The mine would require the relocation of half the town’s residents, the destruction of two generations’ worth of transforming a desert into an oasis, and the contamination of surrounding land, water and air.  Filmmakers Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd follow the formation and progress of the farming community’s five-year mass democratic movement, the Tambogrande Defense Front.  A peaceful, highly creative and organised movement, it became a rare success story of people against the violent and, in this case, murderous, tactics of the government and corporations.  The movement achieved timeless international resonance and has inspired peaceful movements worldwide.

mangos

“Farming is a treasure worth more than gold”.   The people of Tambogrande immediately see past the mining company’s empty promises of new housing, jobs and roads and economic benefit to the area.  They are all too aware of the toxicity of gold mining, and all too wary of exactly what this will do to their community, their children, their land, water, health and livelihoods.   Farming is life, gold is money.  “We can never put gold or silver in a saucepan” as one farmer puts it.  “Where did all these gringos come from saying Peru needs to produce gold, silver, and copper? Peru needs to produce food.”
Mango marcha Lima dic00

The sharp, outspoken community is, for want of a better word, inspirational.  They organised a referendum which gained huge media attention and which eventually led to the scrapping of the mining project.  They used art, music and culture in a campaign which captured the imagination of both Peruvians and those much further afield.  Yet this did not prevent government and business officials trying to stop the movement by resorting to violence and to stereotypes of the isolated, naive peasant.  One official states: “In other developed countries, the levels of culture and education are very high, so you could probably use this kind of process [referendum].  But in Peru where the population is so easily manipulated…”.  And how idiotic he sounds.  It is rare that a moment in a film makes me want to gasp out loud/throw my shoe at the screen quite so much.  It is all too easy to sit in a suit at a desk in an air-conditioned office looking important and refute a mass democratic movement on the grounds that it is formed by a group of dim farmers with no idea about how neoliberal ‘free’-market economics  and total disregard for human life and the environment will somehow save them.

The people of Tambogrande rose, thankfully, well above this kind of ignorance.  Their story is a reminder of how much the majority of the world’s population have to struggle and rise above the ideas of a powerful, wealthy, comparative minority to defend their right to life.  Yet it is also a reminder of how upliftingly successful organised, united, peaceful and democratic protest can potentially be.Tambo mango still

I’d read the international reviews of Tambogrande, heard the accolades and awards, but was not prepared to receive such a moving film through the post this morning.  Tambogrande is a film that informs, moves you to tears and lifts you up all at once, yet doesn’t shy away from a healthy dose of irony and humour.

The reason I’m only seeing the documentary now is because I’ve been helping Movimientos organise a night of Peruvian cinema, photography and music at the Rich Mix Cultural Institute on the 18th of February (see listings), and this is one of the documentaries that will be screened.  The event focuses on the issue of mining and will also include another documentary by filmmaker Michael Watts (interview coming next week), photos by the documentary photography collective Supay Fotos and live music.   With the ever-growing Tar Sands project in Canada and the news that Brazil has just given the go-ahead for the construction of another hydroelectric dam in the Amazon, we need to hear more about how these projects affect the people who live there.  So I hope I’ll see some of you at our event on the 18th.

More info:
In-depth article by Stephanie Boyd

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One Response to “Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining – film review”

  1. Bruce says:

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