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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vimeo Staff Pick "Regolith" a Breathtaking & Human Documentary

"REGOLITH" (2014)
Genre: Documentary
Length- 9:16
Company: ImageFiction Films
Website: Official Facebook

From ImageFiction Films, the new production company of award winning documentary director Sam Goldwater ("If A Tree Falls") comes "Regolith", a short film about a group of teenagers who've left home to work in a trash wasteland district of Accra, the capital of Ghana.  They tear apart aging computers and other devices and sell it by the pound for a meager wage in Agbogbloshie, the largest electronic waste site in the world.

It's a startling, and searing look at what it is to be a migrant worker in Ghana.

ANOTHER WORLD

The first thing you'll notice about "Regolith" is Goldwater's uncanny cinematography.  It's not so much what he shows -- which is beautiful enough -- but what he DOESN'T show that really hits hard.  Without any real narrative going on, he has to fall back on the beauty of his shots and the sorely miserable conditions of the young men whose lives he is documenting. 

The subjects of the film joke to one another in good humor and bad, gossip and talk about sex, pretty much like any other group of teens in any other country.  Yet rarely do we see who is speaking, or if we do, we can't often see their lips.  These young men are trapped in their lot in life, and nothing they can say or do will break that cycle.

The opening seconds of the film are telling: we see a dirty floor, a lone chicken running amok through the dust while offscreen a pair of teens go back and forth about whether it would be OK to accept money obtained from a witch's magic.  Finally, their feet emerge, dragging wires and chunks of electrical equipment, before escaping our sight entirely. 

"Regolith" is a peek into another life, and frankly another world.  Growing up in America, I've never seen the kind of desperation or stress that these young men face on a daily basis. 

I was expecting some kind of notice at the end about how to donate, or at least how to contribute in some way to help the plight of these young men and so many others overseas, but there was none.  Is Agbogbloshie really so unknown?

If so, then what Goldwater's done with "Regolith" is not only a beautiful testament to a generation's desperation, but a noble illumination of the struggles faced by Ghana's children.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  With documentaries, the "writing" consists of arranging one's footage in a manner that tells a narrative story.  With that in mind, as a vignette, it works.  There's no real story -- no real beginning or end, but it works because neither exists for our subjects, either.
Directing: 5 / 5.  Goldwater's visuals are out-of-this-world gorgeous.  He digs in the dirt and finds the beauty in the garbage, the broken electronics and the discarded debris of a million lives.
Editing: 4 / 5.  There was a moment about two minutes in where the film blinks and singing begins, and while it was clearly planned, it didn't feel like the smooth transition it was trying to be.  That aside, the editing is near perfect, keeping the pace moving so well that the nine minutes of run time were over in a flash.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Effective and professionally produced audio.  Aside from the aforementioned singing, there really isn't any music.
Acting: N/A

Final Grade: 3.8 / 5. 

"Regolith" was labeled "Staff Pick" over at Vimeo, and frankly you NEED to watch this.  And don't forget to check out ImageFiction Films on Facebook too -- you'll want to know what they're up to next, believe me!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!