Growing In Oil

Directed by Anabel Rodriguez Rios | Produced by Sepp Bruderman

The above trailer is from the five minute short-doc ‘The Barrel’, upon which ‘Growing In Oil’ has been developed

Growing In Oil is a documentary that follows the children of Congo Mirador on their way from a poor and unstable present into an even more uncertain future.

Congo Mirador is a village that is on top of the water. The nearby oil infrastructure has been neglected and as a consequence, there is more soil dragged into the site of the village. Even though today the villagers are still able to use the waterways with their boats and barrels, they know that with the rising level of of mud serious diseases like cholera will have to be expected as the water is used both as a toilet and for general cleaning purposes. A solution to this problem is only possible with major structural investment, with money that the villagers don’t have.

Even thought the Venezuelan government makes unimaginable amounts of money (crude oil worth 260,000,000USD worth extracted every day), social developmenht policies and services have rarely reached the village.

In Congo Mirador there is a small primary school ran exclusively by a teacher who herself has limited education, there is a church without a priest or service, there is a health without alcohol or cotton and there are fire-fighters without any means of transportation. Electricity is produced by a generator, which only works if it’s not raining and it rains every night.

The village’s story is directly linked with the oil exploitation, In fact the houses have been built with the sub-products and wastage from this industry, resembling a temporary miners camp on the water, built for a limited time, but trapped in this particular circle of life for over forty years.

To read or write are not considered necessary skills for the children. The main source of income is fishing and occasional jobs around the trading of goods into the village. Access to petrol is limited; the government has put rationing into place, as an attempt to officially fight the smugglers operating on the lake. For the people of Congo Mirador this means constant fuel shortages and the need to buy it off the black market.

However, life prevails and the children of Congo Mirador have adapted themselves. Most of them move in tiny boats made out of petrol barrels, their only real direct link with the oil. Most of the time they become fishermen.

People think that within the next 2-3 years that the village will turn into to swampland. By then every person, every family must have made their decision – to stay to the very last moment or to leave their home.

The question is how these children will manage to adapt to this rapid process of change, what will their decisions be? Will they stay or will they leave, and if they leave, how will they adapt to life in the nearest city, Maracaibo, without the basic tools to function within it. What will their future way of life look like?

This film is currently in development and has been funded by the 2013 ‘TFI Worldview Partnership’. Click here for more information.