1. VIOLIN 2007-08 (10') Violin is about blindness. Set in Choco on Colombia's remote pacific coast, it focuses on the relationship between a blind woman Dona Mauricia and her eleven-year old grandson Violin. The film opens with a close-up of Mauricia's face and moves over her body. Her wrinkled skin contrasts with that of her grandson by her side. As the camera moves between their faces it's clear that Mauricia is blind, whilst Violin's face is full of expression, movement and life.

    Mauricia sits just inside her house by an open door, stroking her grandson's face, resting her hand on his, perhaps to feel closer to the world beyond her darkness. They sit together in silence bound to one another by her blindness. Her blindness is central to their relationship; Mauricia depends on Violin to help her navigate through the house, which also doubles up as a tiny village shop. When something needs to be fixed, Violin has to repair it. When a customer needs to be served, Violin attends.

    Mauricia describes how she became blind, feeling an intense pain in her eyes and immediately losing her vision. She tells us that the only thing that has kept her going since is her love for her children. But she misses her sight to cut sugar cane - a job she's done all her life. The back door has fallen off its hinges so Violin finds a way to repair it, taking a machete to shorten it and ease its way. The house feels extremely fragile, a flimsy wooden structure built on stilts that could collapse at any moment. Their house is also weak and vulnerable to age. Sitting in their chairs by the front door once more, time seems suspended. A customer waits patiently by the counter to be served before Violin finally and reluctantly peels himself off his seat to assist.

    We search Mauricia's skin and eyes for clues to how she imagines the world. The camera penetrates her, revealing the visual dimension missing from her world. Suddenly we hear footsteps and a child screaming. Could it be that Violin is not the perfect grandchild? Like Mauricia, we must use our imaginations and ears to reach our own conclusions. Violin might well have a violent side, one that we don't see. In Choco children know violence and are beaten by their parents. The cycle repeats. On hot dry days, Dona Mauricia likes to lie in a hammock in front of the house to find a breeze. It's Violin's job to hang the hammock and take her there. After a time he takes her back indoors. She needs the toilet and sits in darkness whilst Violin waits patiently outside. He guides her back but the door collapses from its hinges. The cycle repeats.

    The metaphors are simple: Life, like this house, is fragile. People are blind in many ways, and domestic violence repeats itself from one generation to another. What seems like the perfect child may not be. The poverty and lack of basic medical facilities means it takes years for a woman like Mauricia to have a simple operation to restore her sight. Funds are stolen or diverted elsewhere - Colombia's war costs more than lives and trickles down to a simple operation that she cannot afford. African-Colombians and the indigenous in Colombia tend to suffer the most.

    # vimeo.com/30961790 Uploaded 1,193 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Along Colombia's Pacific coast by the village of Coqui three interlacing narratives in the global food chain unfold: industrial fishing of prawns destined for Europe; fishermen who have relied on the fruits of the sea witness the depletion of their own food stock; and along a deforested slope a man and a youth carve a canoe which will be used to replenish their fish. This poetic rumination of image and sound reveals the means by which food reaches our table. A fragile eco-system mined for its riches is on the cusp of irreversible change. Selected for Planet In Focus International environmental Film & Video Festival, 2008

    # vimeo.com/30960580 Uploaded 1,557 Plays 0 Comments
  3. A 20-minute video set in a remote and troubled village on Colombia's pacific coast. The main character is played by sixteen year-old Ayda Cardenas. With terrifying prophecy she has since been murdered. It is part-documentary, part-fiction based on real-life stories from this region including Ayda's. Her story is a vision of displacement and includes the thoughts and feelings of other young people from her village.

    The film begins with several men marching into a silent town. 'Fear? I feel fear of suddenly being expelled from the place I live...' says an unconfident voice, an extract from an interview with Ayda.

    The shadow of a world globe appears and a hand spins it like a roulette wheel, a game of chance and fate. Where is the next place this girl will be forced to go? Where will violence and turmoil hit next? As a recurrent image throughout the video, the globe places the story in no specific geographical location. Displacement’s impacts are local and global.

    Played by non-actors the video begins when Ayda's body is found washed up on a beach. Her spirit threatens the town's adults but not the children who are the only ones who can see her while her wooden house is carried from place-to-place round the town. The house moves physically but also reverberates with a metaphorical and poetic vision of sadness and the rejection displaced people encounter in their search for security.

    The sadness of the procession through the town turns into colourful dances, chants of liberation and the representation of war as human madness. This 'parade' acts as a vertebrae through which real interviews of violently displaced people and stunning images of nature are integrated to represent different types of loss as a result of this human tragedy.

    ORISA reflects the story of millions of people in a melancholic, dramatic and beautiful way and shows not only the feeling of abandoning loved ones and the land, but also the shock and stigma of being displaced.

    Supported by the Prince Claus Foundation

    # vimeo.com/30961060 Uploaded 375 Plays 0 Comments

    Filmed in Coquí, Chocó

    Thanks to Eva, Tatiana, Betty and Fausto for letting me 'enter' their space.

    # vimeo.com/37336250 Uploaded 248 Plays 0 Comments


fernando arias Plus

The Chocó Rainforest

The Department of Chocó is situated on the western side of Colombia bordering the Pacific. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth and the most economically poor Department in Colombia.

Chocó offers a place to reflect…

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The Chocó Rainforest

The Department of Chocó is situated on the western side of Colombia bordering the Pacific. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth and the most economically poor Department in Colombia.

Chocó offers a place to reflect on human society. These videos explore the lives of Afro Colombian and indigenous Emberá communities living in Chocó.

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