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ReelEarth: El Cristo Negro (The Black Christ)

Posted on 3/5/2019 12:00:00 AM in What We're Watching

A note from independent filmmaker David Conover on why he chose this film:

Hundreds of thousands of people hike the Camino trails through Europe each year to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Most walk with a simple backpack, trying to clear their heads with the air of the mountains and plains. The religious gratefully embrace the landscapes of their God’s creation as they head to the tomb of St. James. In Central America, people also seek penance via a pilgrimage hike, but with a much higher intensity of suffering. This hike is to Portobelo, Panama, to the statue of El Nazareno, a black Christ figure known as “the saint of the thugs.” Hardened criminals embark on this pilgrimage to seek forgiveness from the statue by walking, crawling, and even slithering like a reptile in the dirt ... while supportive compadres move alongside with a heavy lit candle, dripping hot molten wax onto the penitents’ bare backs. The down-and-out are not the only ones on the eight-hour pilgrimage to Portobelo. Filmmaker Cady Voge introduces us to Dario Rio Espinoza, a married man who desperately hopes the walk will grant him and his wife Wendy the blessing to conceive and give birth to a child. He has reason for his hope. His previous pilgrimages ended his suffering with asthma! As we near the Portobelo church, we feel the desperation of the men and women with much at stake. Truly, a must-watch from the ReelEarth Collection!

Produced by Scott Sell and Josh Povec

About David Conover:

David Conover, a long-term partner of O.A.T. and Grand Circle, is an award-winning filmmaker and conservationist whose work has appeared on Discovery Channel, PBS, and National Geographic Explorer. He is the founder of Compass Light Productions and the nonprofit Conservation Media Group, and was recently the Coastal Studies Scholar at Bowdoin College. Learn more about David here.

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