Directed by Mark Grieco
Colombia is the center of a new global gold rush, and Marmato, a historic mining town, is the new frontier. Filmed over the course of nearly six years, Marmato chronicles how townspeople confront a Canadian mining company that wants the $20 billion in gold beneath their homes.
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★★★★★ review by Guido Arteaga on Letterboxd
Excellent documentary! A "must see" for everyone, regardless of country of origin.
★★★½ review by Matthew Lucas on Letterboxd
Mark Grieco's haunting documentary recounts the plight of local miners in the Colombian mountain town of Marmato, who mine the world's largest remaining gold strike. Yet these miners, who are responsible for digging up massive amounts of wealth for others, are very poor themselves, and their way of life is threatened by large corporations looking to relocate their village and strip mine the mountain. A compelling David vs Goliath tale, strikingly told with great sensitivity. Loses steam near the end, but still pretty gripping stuff. A cut above the standard "social issue" doc.
★★★½ review by Scott Renshaw on Letterboxd
Sturdy, committed you-are-there documentary filmmaking can yield great material if you’re willing to get out of the way and let the story and its surrounding world unfold. Mark Greico winds up with a compelling story as he spends five years in the titular Colombian town—a community built on a mountain that has been a gold mine for 500 years, and continues to be one of the largest remaining ore deposits in the world. But the conflict emerges when the Colombian government decides to sell mineral rights to corporate interests, resulting in a potentially radical shift to the way the mining operations have been run for centuries. Greico follows a few specific characters—a miner trying to raise his family as the paradigm in Marmato changes; a self-made entrepreneur who owns his own mine—over the course of a period when the promise of a wonderful new world by the mountain’s new owners collides with a reality of lost jobs and threats of government action against the workers who illegally continue working shut-down mines. Not surprisingly, the corporate overlords and government collaborators don’t come out looking terribly good, and Greico doesn’t do a particularly effective job of clarifying the legal and/or ethical issues surrounding what the plan for an open-pit mine would do to the local economy, for better or worse. But he does a wonderful job of capturing this unique place, with its latticework of ropes and pulleys overhead, and unsteady homes built on a mountain that shudders with dynamite explosions on a regular basis. And it’s hard to resist moments as splendidly absurd as a hearts-and-minds effort by the mining corporation to win over the townspeople by giving away logo-stamped backpacks and pencils to all the schoolchildren. The core issues at play may never get a more thorough exploration than “simple folk vs. multinational conglomerate intrusion,” but I’ll say this: I won’t soon forget the images in my head of Marmato, Colombia.
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