Review of A Small Section of the World by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
Set in a poor, green mountain region of Costa Rica during the economic downturn of the 1990s, Lesley Chilcott’s documentary follows of a group of coffee manufactures and their journey of entrepreneurial success. With the men of their families off looking for work, the women of Biolley seek employment closer to home – with the help of local coffee bean farmers. Without any prior knowledge of running a business, the homemakers decide that their ASOMOBI coffee mill is one of the best ways to create jobs for their dwindling village.
The scenes of the women starting their company out of a rundown office are intercut with interviews, providing a subtitled narration throughout the documentary. The film traces a timeline from the original creators to a second-generation daughter finding their company a distributor, Grace Mena. The interviewees take their time answering questions and telling their story, giving the film a quiet, serene feeling – even when their dialogue is unsettling.
The documentary is inspirational, touching, and heartbreaking at times. Watching these women, without the privilege of having an education or business experience, build their company from the ground up is both moving and motivating. Seeing their struggles at the beginning, in which they made no money for almost two years, makes their flourishing success that much more satisfying. Cynics might say it’s too hopeful or too linear, but I disagree. Sometimes, seeing struggling people thrive is just what we need. Something to inspire us. Something to give us hope. Something to prove how hard work actually does pay off.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (2/05/15)
Top Photo: A farmer carrying coffee beans to be milled
Bottom Photo: A founder of ASOMOBI in front of the green mountains of Costa Rica
Q: Does A Small Section of the World pass the Bechdel Test?
Yes. The entire film is focused on the women-run coffee mill. They center on the specific women of the Costa Rican farming town and their relation to Grace Mena (the distributor expanding the Women’s Coffee Alliance).