Film Review: Landfall


Nestled in the east of the Great Antilles, Puerto Rico is both a Caribbean Island and easily the biggest of the unincorporated territories of the United States. In many ways this gives it something of an identity crisis. Traditional culture and ways of living collide with an influx of rich investors who are tempted to the ‘state’ by tax breaks and the promise of easy money. Turning the territory into a potential cash-cow which will have little or no benefit to the locals.

Hurricane Maria devastated the north-western Caribbean in September 2017, inflicting major damage on Puerto Rico in one of the worst natural disasters in its recorded history. With a 72-billion-dollar debt even before the tragedy and following a largely ineffective response, the governor is coming under increased pressure. Landfall follows communities as they rebuild their lives and come to terms with their losses.

Landfall paints a fascinating picture of resilience in the face of a failing and unpopular administration. Cecilia Aldarondo’s documentary traces the uneasy relationship between la isla del Encanto and America. Dwelling on the friction between the attempts to market it as a playground for the rich and the increasing poverty islanders are living under. Landfall covers all bases, highlighting the pressure to migrate to earn money with those who are evangelical about their homeland.  

Landfall screens on PBS as part of the POV season on 12 July

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