The Chocolate Farmer <b> NL première </b>

The Chocolate Farmer NL première

Documentary | Rohan Fernando | Canada | 2010 | 70 min | Spanish I English subtitles
Voorstelling: Friday 16 March 19:15 | SK/2

Eladio Pop is a farmer in Belize. Just like his Mayan ancestors he grows cocoa ín the rain forest, He works with nature, instead of against it. He does not use toxic pesticides and would sooner cut out the same path for the hundredth time. But the big question here is whether his children eventually want to take over the farm…

Eldio is a happy man. That doesn’t mean he has no sorrows, but he loves his little world and you can tell just by looking at him. Eldio radiates the tranquility of someone truly at peace with nature, and takes the viewer on a journey through the dense jungle of Belize. Somewhere in the heart of the tropical rain forest, he shows us where he has planted his cocoa trees. He takes you swimming in his beloved river and he points out, with the casual reassurance of someone who knows these things, which plants are medicinal.

He takes you to his neighbour’s field. You can see the surprise in Eladio’s eyes: the jungle growth stops all of a sudden, and a wall of intensively cultivated crop arises. Eladio has been there many times before, but he obviously cannot understand why someone would want to cultivate land in such a way. "They must have sprayed it with something- it really stinks- and now nothing will grow here anymore except for this” he says with a desperate look while pointing at the soy fields.

Eladio evidently would never resort to such measures. With a tireless dedication to traditional agricultural methods, he hacks free a path, for the hundredth time, that will give him access to his fields. It will merely be a matter of days before the jungle will have overgrown the path again, but that doesn’t bother him. It is honest work and he harvests honest cocoa in return.

”Well, that sounds fine” one might say. But Eladio’s lifestyle is under pressure. Eladio works in a cooperative and his colleagues are sometimes drunk, down on luck, or they want to burn down the forest. As soon as Eladio is out of the jungle, people can tell that he is part of a disadvantaged Mayan population. His (many!) children do not seem keen to follow in their father’s footsteps, and live the life Eladio is so passionate about. They would rather try to get a job in the tourism industry. Many kids who live in the village, drink and fight. The knowledge that has been passed on from father to son for centuries is in danger of being lost in a sea of genetically modified soy and in social inequality.

The Chocolate Farmer is a film that shows how things used to be done. At the same time, the film demonstrates that these methods are still viable, but not in a world where people like Eladio are not appreciated and protected. Eladio embodies nature, in fact: he is just as vulnerable as the rainforest in which he grows his cocoa.

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