“A Bridge Between Two Worlds ” (Wendy Moscow)

kew gardens festival of cinema

August 12, 2017.  Can one Canadian man’s vision bring relative prosperity to the poverty-ridden island of Flores, Indonesia? An inspiring story in discouraging times, “A Bridge Between Two Worlds,” is a documentary film that follows the innovative work of Quebeçois Gilles Raymond. Screened at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema before an appreciative audience, we see a man with no personal wealth of his own create an autonomous movement among agrarian villagers in Flores through micro-lending.

Because of Raymond’s charismatic sincerity, other Quebeçois enthusiastically participate by providing small amounts of money to be distributed as “honor loans.” These loans are expected to be paid back in seven years. Each of thirteen families receives $2200, which allows them to buy additional land, purchase ginger to plant, and form a cooperative – effectively doubling their income. Though some families are Catholic, and others are Muslim, there is no conflict among the co-op members, as they experience how the communal good transcends religious sectarianism.

Unlike a UN Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that stays in a community for only a few years, Raymond’s organization, Otomomi, has been operating in Flores since 2000. Originally formed to bring much needed drinking water to 36 villages on the island, Otomomi has since sparked, besides the agricultural co-op, a comprehensive recycling program. Instead of individuals doing the dangerous, and often fruitless work of picking through garbage at the town dump, villagers monetize waste by collectively selling recyclables before they are tossed away. This, obviously, has a positive environmental impact, as well.

Though the seed money for these projects comes from the developed world, it is the people of Flores who have shaped these projects to fit the ethos of their culture. Challenging both church and state, they have created a grass-roots democracy, and even have gotten back in touch with their indigenous religious practice of connecting spiritually with their ancestors.

Director Pascal Gélinas, himself passionate about Raymond’s work, paints a portrait of an unassuming man who is thoroughly integrated into Floresian society. His wife is Floresian, and he lives there full-time. He doesn’t own a car, and travels between villages on foot or motorized rickshaw. But his model for Western participation in the developing world – plant the seed and get out of the way – has sustainably transformed an island.

In answer to why he cares enough to have a stake in improving the lives of people halfway around the world, one of the Canadian Otomomi partners, Clement Guimont, says, “We are all part of the same life force. I can’t remain indifferent.”

Tne screening venues for the “Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema” include the Kew Gardens Cinemas, the only art movie house in Queens (8105 Lefferts Blvd. In Kew Gardens), and the Queens Museum, Flushing Meadow Corona Park, Corona New York.

For further information visit http://www.KewGardensFestivalofCinema.com.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on August 12, 2017, in Documentary, Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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