In part because of long, systemic poverty, Ireland has managed to keep alive traditions that might have otherwise gone the way of progress. Home Turf takes us to a bog where a band of old turf cutters have assembled to work and catch up on news and banter. The laborious process to extract fuel from the ancient bog for winter fires is a tradition these men cherish, and one that is now starting to die. Nearby, an earth mover does the same work in only a few hours that took several men several days, but something essential — perhaps the foundation of communities — is lost in the process.
“Can we endure the things we do or not?” asks Wichan Chaona, a poor trash picker who lives in Thailand. Reminiscent of Lucy Walker’s Waste Land (Mountainfilm 2010), this short film looks at the life of someone who has to work hard in tough conditions and still retains his dignity. Scavenger is a wonderfully spare film, telling the story of this simple and content man in a handsome, straightforward way. What makes it work is the real wisdom offered by Chaona: “If I was rich, I’d be just as happy as I am now…. What we do has more to do with our hearts. All work is the same. It is up to our hearts.”
“Slumping” is a frightening geological phenomenon that’s happening to the town of Santiago Mitlatongo, Mexico, and After the Fall uses photographs from Orion magazine photojournalist Matt Black to tell the story of what happens when soil erosion causes homes, streets and livelihoods to slip, at the rate of one meter a day, into the valley.
Sometimes, in men’s ice-cold eyes, only scarce things become precious. While the premise is quite serious, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this short film’s humorous turn.
The sound of pattering hooves is punctuated by a pig-like rutting noise — but deeper and more mysterious — and we see a mesmerizing sight: a herd of reindeer spinning in circles, their instinct to run so ingrained that they continue, even when penned. Eva Weber traveled 250 miles above the polar circle to the village of Karigasniemi in Utsjoki, Finland, where she spent three days braving freezing temperatures to capture this small slice of herding life.
A passion for surfing, shaping and creating something new out of something old permeates the short documentary Upcycling, which was discovered by Mountainfilm in Brazil during a São Paulo tour show. The film examines the world of a craftsman who takes used longboards and reshapes them into new ones, a process that requires many hands. This story not only captures the beauty of bringing new life to a reclaimed object, it also demonstrates the power that comes with doing something you love.
Archery is in the Mongol blood. After all, Genghis Khan conquered half the world with it. In this short study of Olympic archers by director Lucy Walker (who has brought to Mountainfilm Waste Land 2010, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom 2011 and The Crash Reel 2013), we see how long traditions in self-control, concentration and calm still shape the modern Mongolian sport.