On the banks of the Ruvuma River, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Northern Mozambique, lies the picturesque province of Niassa.
Two thousand kilometers from the country’s capital is a region that attracts honeymooners, adventure tourists, and conservation specialists from all over the world. Expedition guides come to work here every day, marveling at the nature, while nearby the locals go about their daily lives.
In the midst of a province exploding with biodiversity, I was intrigued to be spending the next two weeks filming in a small village 20km from the provincial capital, Lichinga.
After a week of talks with the regional peasant movement (UPCN), the cameraman and I set off to meet members of a small village, who were resisting a company operating in the region.
After only a few days I met Amado, a local farmer who had changed paths and come to work for Chikweti. His wife and kids were still living on their small farm while Amado moved to town seeking work on the plantation.
One afternoon he offered the cameraman and I an opportunity to travel with him back to his farm just “20 minutes away”. Four hours, two broken down vehicles, and one puncture later, we arrived where Amado and five families were living. Needless to say Amado thought nothing of the journey, as it’s a regular weekly trip for him.
The beautiful and uncommon intimacy of the footage provided a powerful palette for the film, but at the same time it imparted a clear responsibility on behalf of the crew. Every evening I would sit down with the chief and dozens of community members to watch the footage shot that day. Often in the pitch black, this sometimes went into the early hours. Yet ultimately, the immediacy of the footage insisted that I always sought out the truth beyond mere observation.
We filmed the residents in their homes, with their families, and out in the fields to see what happens; how they were organising, who they respected, what opportunities presented themselves or not. In just a few weeks we witnessed the dangers and disappointments, recorded the role of authority (both traditional and state) and saw how their experience of one forestry company affected their attitudes, their hopes and dreams.