In the Works: MARMATO

A rural Columbian town becomes the frontline for gold exploitation by a Canadian multinational mining concern.

marmatoThe titular mountain town has steadily drawn from its wealth of gold deposits for over five centuries, but that has all changed in recent years. Colombia, hungry for widespread economic development and relationships with the West, has imperiled the community by selling mines to a small Canadian company at an alarming rate. With gold prices soaring in the wake of the global economic recession, the Canadians plan to displace the 8,000 people of Marmato, level the mountain, and transform their home into an open-pit to extract the estimated $20 billion in gold buried within. Filmmaker Mark Grieco has been living among the people and filming since 2006, chronicling the slow takeover of the town and the growing resistance of its people to what seems to be inevitable.

Grieco is just under two weeks away from completing a Kickstarter campaign for post-production support. At the time of writing, he’s reached a quarter of his goal, and could use help hitting his $42,400 target. To keep updated, visit the project’s Facebook page.

The project has seen significant support from a number of the top nonfiction grantmakers, from the Sundance Institute and Cinereach to the MacArthur and BRITDOC Foundations, speaking to their confidence in Grieco’s work. Tackling a range of issues, from sustainability and environmental destruction to economic development and the costs of globalization, the film nevertheless promises a human grounding through the stories of not only several of the Marmato people, but also, intriguingly, at least one frank-talking Canadian mining contractor. The story’s David vs Goliath aspect makes for an appealing hook, even if a positive outcome is by no means assured at this point. My one point of wariness is the potential of Grieco to be involved as a character within the story – the Kickstarter video subtly intimates this possibility, but I’m hoping that this was just for the sake of the pitch and that the actual film’s focus remains firmly on the local inhabitants and not on meta-filmmaking.

Note: If you have a feature documentary currently in production or post-production and would like to be considered for an In the Works profile, tell me about it here.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, In the Works

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