“Venezuela was once Latin America’s richest country, but in recent years its economy has collapsed.” So opens the Wall Street Journal‘s short film Walking Backwards. What follows isn’t your regular newspaper explainer: you’ll find no talking heads, no fancy graphs or charts. Instead, Robert Libbeti’s video anchors the current crisis in Venezuela in the experience of one woman. Following Maria Planchart with a hand-held camera in tow, Libbeti tracks just how that country’s economy is affecting the everyday life of its citizens.
“The Bolivar is like a ghost in my pocket,” Planchart explains in the voice-over that scores the shaky footage of her walking around the city going about her daily routine. That’s how quickly it disappears. While the focus of the video is the plight of a young mother trying to care for her child — we see her beg for fruit, visit the doctor, worry even about developmental delays — the wide shots of Planchart walking around Caracas speak volumes. The bustling open market, with people scavenging for whatever they can find. The buses filled with people hawking cheap merch. The graffiti that announces “Maduro = Hambre.” The piles of money that visualize the inflation at hand. It all paints a picture of a country who’s failing women like Planchart, who once dreamed of becoming a lawyer and who now ponders whether it makes sense to leave Caracas altogether.
“You could say I lived comfortably,” she says at one point, giving the short film its title, “until we started walking backwards. Started living a nightmare from which we haven’t woken up and who knows if we ever will.” Watch the heart-wrenching short doc below.