Whatever Happened to Juan Valdez?

In 2014, with grants from the Studley Fund, I began working with Ethan Steinman to create a film to explore the present day “post-coffee” condition in Colombia. Through this film we will be able to tell a story about development, globalization, “neoliberalism”, the Colombian conflict and post-conflict, and current trends in the coffee industry. This plan is quite different than most films focusing on coffee which typically either tell a story of degradation (the evil development apparatus, evil capitalism, etc.), extol fair trade, or zero in on the aesthetic pleasures of coffee, specialty coffee in particular.  Our goal instead is to explore the global and institutional history of the commodity by diving deep into what it takes and means to grow this product.  Our goal is to humanize the commodity chain, to show how it is built and what the consequences of that building are, ultimately, for millions of people.  Because one thing is clear, this story is not merely about coffee or Colombia, rather it is about the world we live in today, the diverse ties that bind us, the barriers that divide us, and the prospects for what we can do going forward.  Due to diverse scheduling challenges we have not finished filming but here is a preview of the project.