Uppland

  • Edward Lawrenson
  • 2018
    • United Kingdom
    • Ireland
  • 29 min
  • Colour
  • Production
  • Edward Lawrenson, Killian Doherty

Accompanying an architect who is intrigued by the presence of western-style buildings in Liberia, the filmmaker portrays the former mining town of Yekepa, in the north of the country. The company town has become a ghost town: the empty swimming pool and modernist buildings are the last vestiges of an intense forty-year-long activity, when the American-Swedish company Lamco turned the town into a “true America” – attested by found footage from institutional films and Super-8 home movies. Hope surges in the guard of an abandoned building when he sees the filmmaker arrive: has he come to reopen the mine? After a hard-won struggle to speak with the inhabitants, Edward Lawrenson takes stock of the devastation caused by the industry’s withdrawal. He deepens his exploration of the colonial relationship by going to speak with members of the Mano tribe, displaced when the first European geologists arrived. According to them, since Dr Clarke’s arrival in Yekepa, the zena – a white-haired mountain creature – has disappeared. The versions of the downtown residents, educated at the evangelical school founded by the Americans, differ from those in Old Yekepa. Beneath the economic and environmental cost of globalisation, Uppland reveals a spiritual cost that is no less elevated, no less devastating. (Charlotte Garson)