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Arts & Culture

POV: Landfall

Hurricane-damaged farm in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, fall 2017.
Courtesy of Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Hurricane-damaged farm in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, fall 2017.

Stream or tune in Monday, July 12, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

POV presents “Landfall,” director Cecilia Aldarondo’s latest feature documentary, produced by Ines Hofmann Kanna. Aldarondo was a 2021 Independent Spirit Award "Truer than Fiction'' nominee. The award recognizes outstanding emerging talent in nonfiction film direction.

An official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Viewfinders Grand Jury at 2020 DOC NYC, “Landfall” is Aldarondo’s second documentary film to broadcast on POV after “Memories of a Penitent Heart.” 

Offering a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance and set against the backdrop of the 2019 protests in the wake of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico that toppled the governor, the film assembles scenes from all over Puerto Rico, spotlighting the different ways each community addresses its own recovery.

“Landfall” speaks to the often competing visions of post-María Puerto Rico’s future. Foregrounding the 72-billion-dollar debt crisis that predated the storm and worsened its impact, Aldarondo’s film explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create.

As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.

Millions of undistributed water bottles, Puerto Rico, Summer 2019.
Courtesy of Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Millions of undistributed water bottles, Puerto Rico, Summer 2019.

As activists flood the streets to protest government corruption, “Landfall” finds an archipelago on the brink. While the future remains uncertain, Aldarondo captures the communal power of people fighting for autonomy over their lives.

In posing the question of how we move forward in the wake of disaster, the celebratory mood in the streets offers the beginnings of an answer, one emerging from a growing demand for self-determination and a collective spirit.

Nightly anti-government protests in Puerto Rico, Summer 2019.
Courtesy of Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Nightly anti-government protests in Puerto Rico, Summer 2019.

Filmmaker Quotes:

"As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in ‘Landfall’ is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change," said director Cecilia Aldarondo. She continued, "We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico's electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty.”

"It was an absolute privilege to support Cecilia on this remarkable project. Her collaboration with Puerto Rico-based activist Lale Namerrow Pastor was a model of Puerto Rican solidarity, from the colony to the diaspora. By combining considerate and equitable filmmaking with artistic storytelling that challenges what is currently expected of documentaries, ‘Landfall’ is setting the bar for our field" said producer Ines Hofmann Kanna.

“Cecilia’s masterpiece is both a sharp condemnation of the continued colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico and a warm embrace of the land and people. Rendered with a singular vision and deep affection, you’ll be swept into solidarity with these Puerto Ricans who resist and rebuild,” said Chris White, executive producer, POV.

Watch On Your Schedule:

The film will be available to stream for free at pov.org until Aug. 11, 2021.

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Credits:

A co-production of POV and ITVS, in association with Latino Public Broadcasting.