You Think the Earth is a Dead Thing (2019) | IDFA 2019

November 24th, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Florence Lazar | Doc 61’

Parisian born filmmaker filmmaker Florence Lazar follows her award-winning documentary Kamen: The Stone (2014) with a revealing expose of one of the last vestiges of colonialism.

She discovers that the soil on the Caribbean island of Martinique is plagued by the monoculture of industrial banana plantations and poisoned by the use of the insecticide chlordecone. This is just one of the many far-reaching impacts of the slave trade on human history is on agriculture and horticulture. While the French plantation owners on the Caribbean island of Martinique had their gardens laid out in Versailles style, their enslaved workers continued their tradition of using medicinal wild herbs, which grew in hedges on the periphery of the “habitations.” The plants were known as rimèd razie, or “hedge remedies.”

Nowadays these herbs represent one of several resources through which the people of Martinique counter the health and ecological ravage caused by the use of pesticides on the banana plantations, which cover a quarter of the land.  . In line with natural resources and informed by centuries of tradition, generations of locals fight to resist pesticides and rebuild a sustainable relationship with their environment, while unearthing the pervasive and toxic legacy of colonialism.Another form of resistance is being led by farmers who are reclaiming uncultivated lands to grow indigenous vegetables, guided by expert local knowledge and without any industrial pesticides.

While pruning, chopping and harvesting the plants, local farmers explain, with extensive historic knowledge of the post-colonial era, how difficult it is to preserve biodiversity. These lively interviews alternate with more poetic and tranquil scenes of the island’s lush greenery, and of the cause of the problems: the dangling bunches of bananas, wrapped in plastic packaging. Once again plastic becomes the antihero of our contemporary world and the villain of this informative look at communities desperate to survive and flourish in the 21st century.

IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary


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