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The unifying force of a common struggle

Regissør: Nadir Bouhmouch
(Marokko og Qatar)

ACTIVISM / Movement is a lyrical and beautifully filmed piece of political propaganda – with a Moroccan twist.


#Nadir Bouhmouch # s Movement is a beautifully filmed poetic walk through the lives of poor Moroccan villagers depicting their defiant opposition to a silver mine that both steals the land from them and poison the earth with cyanide. It all stands as a school example of the many underreported cases in which small communities protest the environmental damage of the wealthy elite – and here Movement on hope and encouragement as well as a host of colorful personalities. But like many others who both write and direct a single film, Bouhmouch is too close to his own material.

Movement on the Road '96

The film begins in the dry, dusty and blown activist camp atop Alebban Mountain – a rocky gorge with panoramic views of an ocher valley and toward distant mountains where "Africa's seventh largest silver mine" hides. In stone cottages, villagers have kept watch here since 2011: Then they closed the crane on the now rusted pipeline that had for many years led the necessary water up to the silver mining operation.

In 2011, the soil in Imider was poisoned by cyanide leaks.

The water source – which is built into a concrete tank – lies within the confines of Imider, a small village down in the valley, where the inhabitants have carved a life. Meanwhile, a fertile little patch of almond trees and barley fields are in a protected corner by the ruins of a French colonial fort. The village experienced that the wells ran out of water after the mid-80s began intense pumping activity for the silver mines.

The first round of protests started in 1996, and it is from there that the village activists brought the name to the movement: Movement on the Road '96. Martyrs of the time – men who were imprisoned or killed in fighting with the police – still enjoy respect and admiration. Bouhmouch does not provide details of what happened during these protests, but takes us back to 2011 – when the earth was poisoned by cyanide leaks and the almond trees withered, and resistance flared up again. This time the villagers took the matter into their own hands – they closed the crane attached to the pipeline and occupied the Alebban hill.

Their story is told through the locals' own words, songs, poems and local events, including a delightful open-air spring party, where parents and their children perform small plays in between all the speeches and screenings of inspirational films about other environmental activists.

Priceless value

The harsh beauty of the craggy craggy and rocky valleys (depicted in scenes of sheep and goats gathering by an increasingly rusty water pipeline), under a glorious and bright blue sky, is contrasted with green, fresh colors from the small lush valley, where the almond flowers spring out "big as cowhorses". Apart from these beautiful moods, Bouhmouch chooses to tell the story through the villagers, who talk in between about what is happening. With this approach, the director avoids the need for a narrative voice, which can nevertheless be intrusive at times.

"We have suffered from drought and forurensning because of this mine, ”says one woman as she and her friends hit high under an almond tree. “After we closed the crane to the mine, the water has come back. Last year we couldn't even harvest. "Another woman adds:" But that doesn't mean anything, as long as the cyanide is in the soil, there's not much we can hope for. And when you defend your rights, you are only suppressed. "

Bouhmouch makes no attempt to show the other side of the story – there are no pictures of the mine itself or interviews with anyone related to its operation. The public is simply informed that the mine is one of the largest and most lucrative in the entire African continent. Arrested and imprisoned villagers claim they are facing false charges. The movie, on the other hand, contains no pictures from the courtroom or clashes with the police. But these shortcomings may not be important.

Movement highlights the unifying force a common goal has for a group of people. The inhabitants of Imider insist that they are not powerless: They show that by acquiring knowledge and refusing to be intimidated, they can make a difference in one of the many front lines for it , the ecological movement # – a movement that deserves the support of everyone who is committed to fighting for a more just and equitable world. The protection of the environment is invaluable compared to the glorious glorification of money by global capitalism.

Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker.

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