Sunday, November 29, 2009


Embedded with disquieting meaning, the ordinary life engenders the actuality of how ordinary this actually is to the people of Costa Rica. We harvest eggs and talk about technique and practice, solitude over conservation as locals yell, "follow the gringo," and we walk and we walk and we walk. They laugh and love that I am carrying these huge sacks of turtle eggs with them. One of the Korean filmmaker asks Jon,"Why does he do that."
"I think he just wants to know what it feels like to really be a part of the town."
"Ahh, an artist must suffer for his work."

Of course we had already spent two days of filming and observing the whole process as outsiders with our memory boxes. Looking in.

"We witness so much sadness and injustice...but maybe part of the solution is simply that, to witness it. Because once you have been a witness to something, you can testify to it. I'm surely not saying that it's the entire solution, but it is definitely the first step." -shannon

I had a moment during an interview with Carlos Mario in which I started to tear up and I think it was then when I felt something so much more...real. Like I started to see things more clearly in the world. I said, "I would like to say something aside from this interview. I think, and your efforts only confirm this belief, that when I come back in a year, Ostional will be a more unified place because of you." And he said, "no, it will be a better place because of what you guys are doing with the video, and from people really seeing this place." It feels all a bit corny but somehow I still have tears in my eyes as I type this. I don't know what it is about this whole experience, but something continues to change inside of me. it will take weeks after finally leaving to understand this.

“The real challenge for a filmmaker is to take a story that seems banal, and tell it in such a way that it becomes exemplary.”

-Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

Monday, November 23, 2009

making art and science

i can't help but to aspire to be a voice behind the pages that people can relate to and connect with no matter how hard i try to just capture these people like a fly captures people when it sits at their tables or on their walls. i love films and books in which i connect as much with the voice of the author as i do the characters...or maybe it's really just the opposite: a desire to learn from people different from myself; to see the world with their eyes. and now, as we go on, this week seems to be filled with meeting people at their houses...and with attempts at understanding who they are as members of the community, small parts of a larger collective (hopefully sometime before the arribada de las tortugas). we spoke at their town meeting saturday briefly and then listened as a hundred or so passionate voices proclaimed their legitimate fears of displacement from this community as the government has a pending law that some feel may clear the way for larger developments. a strange paradox of protection. i don't know where i stand yet on turtle eggs, but i foresee such sad faces if this becomes actuality. i have already seen some of the coldest faces, dark with hunger, in my life...and therefore, it seems that apathy is not a choice, that is their duty to live loudly. and despite the complications, i can't help but feel the lack of affectation in their desire and needs when they speak so passionately and ardently. i don't think it is my responsibility to change anyone or anything, and i'm not trying to make a political statement or take a stance, but to remain silent would be condoning these acts, even if you are not sure how to go about helping the situation. indifference may be hurting the turtles and the people more than any individual or fishing company. so i figure the least i can do is have their voices be heard, even if there is nothing i can do to directly help the community other than leave a small donation and a few skateboards. essentially, tourists and turtles have a virtually identical impact on the community of ostional: they arrive out of the blue, bestow untold riches upon the town, and then return to their glorious lives in other parts of the world…thereby leaving the people of ostional no choice but to wishfully burn the days until their beneficiaries return.

but by nightfall, the conflict breaks down into little villages of turtles, with their groups of nests lying still in the small shadows of a quarter moon. turtles gather in larger numbers as the arribada approaches. and then the arribada, retracing the paths of other animals now extinct, begins with the groupings of turtles by daylight: mere coincidence, or a sense of history? hopefully they don't know it too well or else they might nestle solely by nightfall again, but this time all at once and continually throughout the month, recognizing posterity. ahh, if only we all spoke the same language.

on a side note, another ICADS volunteer came to continue the work with the library. we are setting up a reading program at the school, since it is a neutral building which will hopefully encourage kids to come. the government building (MINAE) has always discouraged families to support the library and in part, i can't help but to support that...or at least understand it. this place is like a memory box: people can't let go of anything once felt. and aside from the project, i'm just happy that what i wrote about Ostional four years go is actually inspiring people to go to ostional and continue the project. they need some permanence, but in the meantime a volunteer every semester seems to be enough, in terms of the meaning for the spanish word: enough. both the park ranger and head researcher agreed that it was a great idea that the MINAE donation we brought went to new books for the library. a new skateboard from element as a reward will only help the cause. but it's not the intention.

crew has returned.

another week...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

turtle diaries

are we too broad in our approach? too risky to listen to the voices of an entire town we will hardly know? tal vez. but people need to see the community as a whole and feel life here. so we pass feelings with the relentlessness of naive revolutionaries. how can we know any better? our goal: to profile and photograph as many people as we can. we will see these "characters" cross paths during the arribada. and then... we follow a turtle egg into the markets of san jose, to the point of purchase. and then we are back in ostional, everything is empty again. kids are playing soccer. streets quiet. and the solace of families sitting on empty porches. there are so many different roles and opinions in this town it is fascinating to fully realize how complicated things are here. they say that life is simple but i think it is far from that to be completely honest with you.

i think, or I feel at least, that a documentary is going well when all of your subjects question your intentions or at some point ask if you can turn off the cameras, despite the temporal frustration of wanting them to say things for the message of the film. I feel confident about the effects this film can have on the government of costa rica but nervous at the same time of the condemnation that might follow. history can absolve me with this impermeable memory (film), but I will still be saddened if I don't feel a part of this place some day. in team huddles during soccer games they tell me that in spite my "san jose colored skin" i am still a part of ostional. is that not more important in life?

meanwhile, we all return after long days of heartfelt discussions and moments of natural cinema to find ourselves in more in-depth coversations about the possible hypocrisy of viewership, and the multitude of directions that this film can take. if motorcycle diaries is how it really felt to be this wanderer for change, i can't help but to relate to the experience of such vagabonds in a film. we feel, and what we have captured only confirms this belief, that the course of things in ostional are slowly changing...or maybe it is just us.