Nadir Bouhmouch’s Movement is a beautifully lensed, lyrical stroll through the lives of poor Moroccan villagers who take a determined stand against a silver mine that is both robbing their land of water and polluting it with cyanide.
As an object lesson in how community activism on the frontlines of little reported, micro-localised protests against environmental degradation by wealthy elites, Movement offers hope, encouragement, and an array of colourful characters. But, like many films both directed and produced by one individual, Bouhmouch is too close to the material.
The film opens in the arid, dusty and windswept environment of the village protest camp atop Mt. Albban, a rocky outcrop with sweeping views across an ochre-tinted valley toward distant mountains hiding «Africa’s seventh largest silver mine.» Here, in rock-built shelters, villagers have kept watch since 2011. This was the year when they turned off the source valve along a – now rusting – pipeline that had supplied water essential to the silver mine’s operations for years.
Martyrs from those times… are revered to this day.
The water source – and a concrete tank built over it – lies on land within the limits of Imider, the tiny settlement far below where the villagers eke out an existence. A fertile quadrant of almond trees and barley fields nestled in a sheltered corner of the valley near the ruins of a French-colonial fortress, Imider’s wells began running dry after intensive pumping began in the mid 1980s.
The first protests began in 1996 – from which the villagers take their action’s name, «Movement ’96». Martyrs from those times – men imprisoned or who died in clashes with the police – are revered to this day. Bouhmouch skims over what happened to that protest, but by 2011 – with almond trees dying and the land increasingly poisoned by cyanide from mine spoil leaching – the action was reignited. This time, villagers took matters into their own hands, turning off the valve operating the pipeline pump and …
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