Director/screenwriter Martin Mareček’s 82 minunte observational documentary, Solar Eclipse (Pod sluncem tma), follows 2 Czech engineers, Milan and Tomáš, who are sent on a mission to restore a solar electric system in a remote village in Zambia.
It had been installed several years earlier as part of an international aid project but has since fallen into disrepair. They discover a number of causes, ranging from poor maintenance to theft and corruption.
The film basically follows them over the course of several days and pitch-black nights, offering an uncensored, no-frills look at the pitfalls of development aid, without judging and without any direct commentary.
Mareček is best known for his two previous feature socio-political documentaries Dust Games (Hry prachu), which focused on demonstrations against the World Bank, and Source (Zdroj), about issues around the construction of the BP oil pipeline in Azerbaijan.
Winner of the Czech critics’ prize, Solar Eclipse is a collaboration between Mareček and the production team of Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda.
I’m definitely intrigued by what I see here, and would like to see more. Solar Eclipse is currently touring the film festival circuit; next stop, BFI in London.
Trailer follows below: