Published Oct 07, 2010Opening with the teary-eyed tale of a woman forced to leave her children after her union organizer husband began receiving death threats, Return to El Salvador sets its tone firmly upon the soapbox, describing the evils of rightwing thinkers and globalization ad nauseam. While tedious, with biased conjecture, and occasionally obnoxious — posting web links for viewers to "get involved" — it's not entirely unfounded, given the tumultuous, substandard status quo in El Salvador, which, as described within, is the redeeming quality of this documentary.
Narrated by Martin Sheen — a noted political nut for Salvadoran causes — Jamie Moffett's doc describes the population expansion of the country over the last century. It acknowledges external industry using the land for cash crops such as coffee, along with political imbalances, leading to a civil war between guerrilla fighters known as the FMLN and a rightwing government backed strongly by millions from Reaganomics funds.
When this timely plea for John McKay's C300 bill to ensure that Canadian extractive companies follow human rights and environmental logic when operating overseas falls into interview mode, it is at its strongest. Because the editing between speakers is fluid, describing the violent climate in El Salvador post-civil war, the tone confidently conveys the quotidian of a nation struggling. Even when they slam Canadian company Pacific Rim with an array of hearsay and conjecture, accusing them of torturing and killing a local environmentalist, the pacing and selection of footage compel and convince.
It's just a shame that Moffett continually steps back to frame new topics with a local cable station aesthetic that makes no effort to polish the piece professionally. Indeed, this is a documentary made specifically for a political cause, but people are far more likely to stand around a soapbox listening to someone rant if that person looks legitimate and sane. (Jamie Moffett Media Design)