Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

The Modern Jungle

Academic journal article Journal of Religion and Film

The Modern Jungle

Article excerpt

The Modern Jungle (2017), dir. Charles Fairbanks and Saul Kak.

This documentary film is an example of "direct cinema" that records its subjects performing ordinary everyday activities, and does not seek to impose an agenda or narrative structure on them. As such, the directors did not know exactly what would be created from their efforts. What was not anticipated was a relationship between the subjects and the filmmakers that they captured as it evolved.

Juan and Carmen were the locals who agreed to be filmed, even though they say that other people have criticized them for helping the "rich American filmmakers" who they assume will exploit them for money. The locals do not seem to understand the difference between a low budget documentary and a Hollywood blockbuster, and so automatically assume that money will be made from this film. Juan makes a little money as a healer, and he and Carmen both live simply off the land. Both are older and very poor. Both are religious, and pray to God for help with money and health. Juan has a hernia and is frustrated with the inability of the city doctors to help him, a process catalogued by the film. He then asks the filmmakers for money to invest in nutritional supplements which he has seen advertised that promise tremendous health benefits. …

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