Thursday, September 12, 2013

From Zimbabwe to Sante Fe

A Documentary of Courage
 By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
From Zimbabwe to Sante Fe

Last week the city where I live held the White Sands Film Festival.  While looking for a movie to review, I found that our largest theater complex (we have three) was hosting films for the festival.  The only film that caught my eye was this documentary, From Zimbabwe to Santa Fe.  Since this film had already started showing, I researched a little more on their website. The website was very interesting and the DVD was the about the same price as two people going to the movies, so I ordered it.  The clips of the film that you can watch on their website give you an idea of what the documentary is like and are extras that you won’t find in the film itself. 

The documentary is about two villages, Masendu and Siansundu, which are located in Zimbabwe in the southern part of Africa.  It was formerly known as Rhodesia.  There are three women featured in the film, Matron, Gogo and Sindiso.  Matron is a 22-year-old orphan.  She has no education and is trying to take care of her younger siblings and family, who are from the village of Siansundu.  Gogo is in her sixties and is a widowed grandmother who is thankful for her gift of basket-making.  She said she dreams about designs to make, and everyday she can’t wait to get started.  Sindiso is a middle-aged wife and mother who speaks English and is the head of Masendu Ward’s natural resources, which is a volunteer organization. 

The film follows the women’s journey and dream of global commerce, when they learn of news of the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.  This is the largest folk art market in the world.  (I live about four hours away from this.)   The community decides to seize the opportunity to select someone to go to America to sell their baskets.  We see their selection process of who will go and their struggles through monetary setbacks, cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, internet and communication breakdowns, transportation difficulties, bureaucracy, and political prejudices.  They become very tired yet they persevere. One of the important lines in the film is that you prepare a journey but it does not end up being a success unless you prepare properly. Our journey toward eternal life in heaven is the same way.

Although the film doesn’t mention that their interest in the Folk Market was from God’s prompting, it reminds me of the many times in the Bible when God asked someone to journey to another place that is totally unfamiliar to them.  Matron’s mantra is courage, and this is definitely an example of how God works. 

By today’s standards, this film might not be the most exciting, but the content is amazing.  We see the beauty of God’s creation in land and people, and I was extremely humbled by their living conditions.  (It made me realize how spoiled I am.)  Their unemployment rate is 95%!  Money is of no value, so they barter or use U.S. money.  They grow their own food, and just getting water is a daily task as they carry it in buckets from a well.  The simplicity of their lives is very humbling. For example, when they have village meetings, it's under the community tree. 

Many sit on dirt floors, and chickens run around inside their houses.  Their roofs are made of thatch.  Many can’t afford to go to school, because the cost is about 70% of their annual wage and many who do go to school don’t have shoes. (A clip on their website about the school children is quite informative).

An interesting dichotomy was their use of cell phones. It seems many have phones, but the service is not very good.  (How quickly the internet is changing our world, and the film certainly documents that.)

I think this film is excellent in that it shows how another culture lives.  I found it very informative and much better than spending money on supporting a violent film.  It would be great for showing young people how people in other cultures live and also to raise the awareness of fair trade organizations. We recently brought one group to our parish, who sold goods made by people like the ones in this film (  It’s amazing how the internet has leveled the playing field.  The website for SERRV International is very professional and gives craftsmen a place to sell their goods to earn a living. Also, you can order baskets from the website of this film, because through the film you will get to know the artists who created these baskets.

To order the DVD, visit

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. What other cultures do you know where people live with less than you have?
  2. How has the internet changed how we do things? Is it for the good or bad?
  3. Imagine taking something you have made to sell in another country? Would you be willing to go to a strange new place for your family?


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