Insightful documentary highlights one of Mexico’s breathtaking rainforests
Content Disclaimer: Contains brief descriptions of animal slaughter.
It is a nice gift in a movie when you can sit back and see the beauty of nature on the screen. The documentary, “The Cloud Forest,” carries with it a deeply cinematic presence that portrays a community living a harmonious and modest life in the nearby rainforest. Through intimate photographs and sincere conversations, we are welcomed into their idyllic world.
“Bosque de Niebla,” as the film is known in Spanish, welcomes us to a place that teaches care and respect for one another and for the rainforest they call home. Animals and humans live in a world of almost Edenic nature. The Cloud Forest is located in the Huatusco Mountains, Veracruz, Mexico, and is said to be one of the few remaining in the region.
The film opens with a wide shot of a distant mountain lit by the sun. In the foreground, lush trees in the middle of a dense valley that stretches to the mountain in the distance. Several intimate shots of the animals that inhabit the rainforest begin to establish this theme of the guardian that accompanies the film until the end. The different inhabitants of the village each do their part to enrich their community.
The film’s cinematography, while understated and sparse, frames the community beautifully. Birdsong, wind, rain and a recurring shepherd’s song mark the film. Portrayals of typical family affairs and gossip at work show that this community is not far from ours.
The community in the film uses an agricultural practice called “Permaculture“Where the land is structured to allow careful and controlled sustainability. Adopters of the term, which took shape in the late 1970s, aligned the practice with indigenous knowledge of farming techniques and as an avoidance of the industrial farming method prevalent in the West. The film shows this in practice on several occasions as a community effort among the villagers. We get a brief glimpse of their world in conversations by the riverside about wanting to be a doctor, to a parent – through their tears – reassuring their daughter’s happiness.
While I would have liked to have had some additional insight into the broader permaculture techniques, it wasn’t that type of documentary – and that’s good. There are several lingering conversations in the film that allude to both the cause of the plight of their forest and the future of it and its community, all while visualizing a richer society. What is shown is the unwavering resilience of a local community and its commitment to positive change.
As part of the ongoing celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to spotlight important films by Hispanic artists. This film can be viewed on the Kanopy website, which all UTSA students can access through the library’s database page.