“First of all, we are not just a few foreigners. Second, we are not guerrilla fighters; we are not terrorists. We are farmers doing our duties as well as demanding our rights be respected.”
These words, uttered by man and backed by many supporters, illustrate how a small group of people can resist a corporate influence that proves detrimental to their environment and way of life.
In When Clouds Clear, showing Monday at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, the isolated people of the small Ecuadorian village of Junin must fight for their land when a foreign mining company looks to move in and displace them. The mine will poison the community’s water supply and destroy the agricultural lifestyle many live.
Ascendant Copper, a company from Canada, offers the community new schools and money for every villager. They are promises that eventually divide much of the townspeople.
Young American filmmakers Anne Slick and Danielle Berstein, craft an emotional and sometimes intense portrait of a village struggling to maintain its sense of simplicity, in a world becoming ever more abrasive and intrusive toward those who resist the corporate pressure many have come to accept.
Time after time, Ascendant Copper tries to enter the village. But its people stand defiantly at a roadblock, not letting them pass, even in the face of a hired corporate army, and even in the face of promised riches.
“To have money in our pockets doesn’t get us anything. We do not get an itch for money. For us, everything we have here is like having money,” says one man about the bribes offered to him.
While many villagers carry guns and other weapons, perhaps the most poignant moment of the film is when one villager stands and directs others how to fight the army without violence. “You need to understand, our victory will not be won with guns. Our strength is that we are all here together…our best weapon has always been the truth.”
When the mining company eventually promises to leave, there is still a lingering feeling that they will one day come back. But the looks on the faces of the villagers tell the viewer that their resolve to keep fighting will always be there waiting.
To view the When Clouds Clear trailer, click the video below.
When Clouds Clear screens Monday, February 18 at 10 a.m. at The Wilma.