The Swirl (2016)
“A sensitively observant portrait of an oft-flooded hamlet on the banks of a wide river in the southern state of Chiapas.”
Perched on the swelling shores of the Usumacinta River in Chiapas, Mexico, El Remolino was settled decades ago by five families who saw promise in the area’s dense jungle and mountainous vistas. Today, the town suffers from some of the country's worst flooding. Nearly every rainfall brings a torrential downpour until the streets and roads run with water.
While many have deserted, siblings Pedro and Esther Benitez remain to navigate not only the fluvial terrain but also the ghosts of a painful shared childhood. Pedro is a farmer who defends their identity and dreams; their sister Esther strives for a better future for her daughter as she shares her world through the lens of her small camera.
Considerations of feminine identity, power, memory, and the influence of family poignantly converge in director Laura Herrero Garvin’s languid and beautifully documentary.
The Swirl is a lyrical ob-doc that intelligently surveys the social and ecological impact of the flooding – from schools that can't open to farms that can no longer operate – and introduces us to residents who are striving to create a more progressive, sustainable future.