"My only strength is wisdom" - Jairo Fuentes
Jairo Fuentes is the nominated leader of the Wayúu commission: a 31-family community of indigenous Colombians living in the mountainous jungle of Tamaquito.
Generations of prosperous Wayúus have lived peacefully and sustainably in the community: fishing in the local river, hunting in the local forests, keeping livestock and growing produce. Their children play there. The ghosts of their ancestors live there.
Suddenly, that peace is shattered by coal-mining behemoth, Cerrejon.
La Buena Vida (which translates to “The Good Life”) is a 2015 documentary made by German film maker Jens Schanze. The story is told in chapters: “Growth”, “Happiness”, “Power”, “Progress”, “Prosperity”.
The film has a quiet intensity; it’s not so much what is said, but what isn’t said that sustains the atmosphere of dread. Exchanges between Cerrejon employees and members of the Wayúu are loaded with tension, and the sprawling shots of the mines juxtaposed with the tiny village of mud huts and hammocks hints at the futility of it all.
Still, the community is united and steadfast as the mouth of the mine opens wider and wider, threatening to consume Tamaquito wholly, and when the credits roll, it’s the bravery and dignity of the Wayúu people that stays with you.
La Buena Vida screened at the Human Rights & Arts Festival, of which Bank Australia is a proud supporter.
HRAFF runs until 8 June in cities across Australia. Visit 2016.hraff.org.au to see the dates for your city.