Colin Low II

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Introduction to Fogo Island

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 21, 2015

This is very simple, very small-scaled. It confidently and unapologetically sets itself apart from most of the films we see and think about. In doing so, and in doing that separate thing so successfully, it makes you wonder why things are so upside down. Entertainment is fine, but this kind of thing represents the form’s best application, purpose, destiny.  “Government policy for Fogo is being formulated now, and can be influenced by local people if they can reach a consensus, and propose a plan of action…” This confidently social-democratic film affirms that the costs of welfare are greater in terms of human dignity, than they are financially. “One thing is certain: continuing able-bodied welfare is not a satisfactory answer…”

The Fogo Island project is even more basic than conventional documentary activisms. “Our challenge is to create confidence in people’s ability to articulate and to communicate their problems, in a belief that an aware community can best shape its own future.” It’s the sons of Mosiah, here for the long term, rolling up our sleeves. Introduction to Fogo Island is unapologetically itself, but the shots and their assembly are customarily, Colin Low beautiful. It’s a little thing, but it resonates with the best of its period. The keening, mournful song that opens, then ends, laid over top of this superb rendering of this elemental setting, has the mournful portent of McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

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