The existence, maintenance, and development of the Panama Canal is of global interest. It is the primary shipping route for world trade between the Atlantic and the Pacific and provides Panama with great economic stability. As Panama has learned to operate the canal, it has also learned of the challenges associated with it. During a trip to Panama, Alex Douglas began to investigate the canal's impending expansion due to global, economic and technological demand. As well as interviewing those directly involved in determining the canal's trajectory, he turned to voices that were not normally included in the dialogue, people with whom he lived for months at a time. His immersion in the lives of people from all backgrounds surfaced a more pressing need to examine the country's distribution of wealth. Even with the canal’s current successes, people in parts of Panama still struggle to find means to survive. Alex returned with a small team to document the landscape and people whose lives would be affected by the canal expansion and depend upon it's success. While the appropriate investments have been made to secure their financial future, it remains to be seen whether Panama will meet the social challenges that will undoubtably expand alongside the canal.
The Passage contains extensive footage and interviews, gathered from more than a year spent in Panama. It includes interviews with Nicolas Ardita Barletta (Former President of Panama, and Vice President of the World Bank), Jorge Quijano (Director of Maritime Operations for the Panama Canal), Juan Wong (Chief Engineer for the Expansion of the Panama Canal), and Stanley Heckadon (Director of the Smithsonian Institute in Panama) as well as voices from outside the larger sphere of influence: Anna Crossdale (single mother of three, living in the Colon slums), Bienvinedos Montenegro (70 year old taxi driver in Panama city), Carlos Valderrama (sugar cane farmer in rural Coicle), and Manuel and Maxwell (two fishermen from San Blas). These voices, mingled with vivid scenery ranging from the slum to the city, form a fuller spectrum of thought and implication surrounding the Canal's expansion. With billions of dollars being spent, heavy Western involvement, and the assurance of more money being channeled back into the economy, there has never been a more important time to closely examine these rapid developments and their effects on the lives of people.
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