Everyday Activist - Fire in Paradise | After Maria (Oscars 2020)

Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2020 at 06:00 PM

Fire in Paradise | After Maria (Oscars 2020)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Netflix had four short documentary films on the Oscars 2020 shortlists. Fire in Paradise, After Maria, Ghosts of Sugar Land and Life Overtakes Me. Despite the awards some of these films have won, I didn’t think any of them were The White Helmets (Oscars 2017 winnter) calibre. Fire in Paradise is a favorite to win, documenting a tragic story of California’s deadliest fire with some epic footage; however, doesn’t offer any solutions or steps to prevent future disasters. After Maria was about the 2017 devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. While both films are about natural disasters, nothing new was brought into the discussion of how to deal with displacement. Directors need to have ideas about the bigger, more universal themes and narrative arcs, especially around climate change.

California always seems to be flooding or on fire. Moving forty thousand people with less than one hundred casualties was impressive. Emergency responders did their best to help get people out of the city and to keep those who were trapped safe. The most powerful images were watching the families as well as the school teachers go back to their homes and place of work. Some of the scenes were gruesome, earning the mature audience rating. I appreciated the teachers working with the children to explore their feelings over what happened, providing an outlet for their trauma.

Director, Nadia Hallgren, was heavily criticized for her focus on families in a New York FEMA camp who have to start over, away from friends and family, rather than people suffering in Puerto Rico. US policy doesn’t make sense to me. Aren’t there camps in the southern US that could have taken them? Putting vulnerable people with limited resources in an expensive city, where they don’t speak the language, seems to be a recipe for homelessness. In a place with more Spanish speaking people they would have a better chance to develop relationships with the local groups to find housing and jobs without government assistance.

Cheap energy sources have insulated people from the reality that they have over extended the natural limitations of the environment. Agriculture and cities have intense water requirements. If municipalities respected the capacity of the local watershed, cities would be a fraction of the size and food waste would be as distasteful as plastic straws. Pumping spent fossil fuels into the atmosphere causing warmer oceans increase hurricane frequency and intensity. With hurricanes becoming more common, protecting coral reefs and natural vegetation to mitigate damage is essential, but the US doesn’t seem to give Puerto Rico as much attention. Having the documentaries discuss these issues in addition to the disasters would have made both films stronger.  

Calgary Showtimes: Fire in Paradise > | After Maria >


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