directed by Cecilia Aldarondo

Back in the old days, the cool countries demonstrated their manhood by collecting colonies. The USA was no exception – we had the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to name a few. Not quite a state, and certainly not an independent entity, colonies provided cheap labor, abundant resources, and no real political cohesion. When Hurricane Maria stuck, the mainland response was best illustrated by a president throwing paper towels at the starving masses.

This documentary provides vignettes of how the islanders deal with the results of that storm, along with decades of bad management. Much of the housing stock is still smashed. A corrupt governor draw street protest, and the rich still live in luxurious gated communities. The farmers who leave their family for $13 a hour landscaping gigs are the lucky ones. Moving to New York is an option, if you can take the winters. We watch a pair of Bitcoin cowboys try and talk the locals into something suspect. I assume its Bitcoin mining but the only thing I’m sure about them is I wouldn’t lend them an empty coke can. This gentle documentary offers scenery and neglect, but by the film’s end I’m not sure what the filmmaker Aldarondo tries to say. Build closer relations to the mainland? Pursue statehood? Independence? Seek pity? Live with the trouble’s and give up? I leave the theater feeling a bit empty. The pictures are pretty, but I don’t take home a message.

This film was presented as part of the 2019 Florida Film Festival sponsored by the Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL.

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