OCDF: Shady River

Open City Documentary Festival 2021
Dir: Tatiana Mazú González
Argentina / 2020 / 82mins

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Río Turbio (Shady River) is the name of the coal town in the Argentinian Patagonia where the filmmaker hails from. Local superstitions have traditionally forbidden women from entering the mines; according to legend, the earth would become jealous and that would lead to the collapse of excavations and certain death. Women were initially brought to Shady River by force and have remained trapped there in the passive roles of spouses and daughters, their place in the mine limited to that of being visitors to the local mining museum or participants in a beauty pageant.

Unable to enter the mine herself to film it, Mazú constructs an oblique portrait of the female experience of coal country through archive footage, geological maps, landscape shots, photographs and text message exchanges with her aunt – a local campaigner who was once crowned Miss Coal. Shady River is a complexly layered essay film that deconstructs the mine as a gendered territory and gives a voice to the untold stories of women living in towns of men.

THIS PROGRAMME IS PART OF Open City Documentary Festival 2021.