Film Review: Arica

As the climate crisis worsens by the day, much more attention is being paid to how we manage waste; nuclear, domestic and industrial. While major corporations and government like to boast about meeting green targets, if you dig a little deeper things become very muddied. Detritus is often shipped abroad in order to be processed, whether that’s for recycling or simply ‘disposal’. In practice, this is usually developed countries transferring their responsibilities to poorer nations.

In 2010, Chilian born, Swedish resident Lars Edman turned his camera on the Boliden scandal. The result was the documentary Toxic Playground. Along with co-director William Johansson, they focused on the Swedish mining company who, in 1984, shipped poisonous waste to the Chilian desert town of Arica. It was dumped and many local residents became seriously ill in the years which followed. In Arica, they carry on where their last film left off, looking at the continuing legacy and the fight for justice.

Arica follows local environmental campaigners as their case goes through the court system. Sadly, it’s no surprise that regardless of how progressive a country claims to be, in the end money is still king. The connection between Erdman and the residents of the town is clear and there’s a lot of care and attention which has gone into Arica. It’s a documentary which is probably more important than entertaining, but that doesn’t make its message any less powerful or urgent.

Arica is out in UK cinemas on 6 May.

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