The Ocean’s Cosmic Lessons
Aug 15, 2018
On the southernmost shore of Oaxaca lies the Punta Cometa peninsula, a rocky cape that juts out into the Pacific Ocean in the shape of a cowboy boot. It is a destination popular with tourists, who flock to the region for its spectacular views of the sunset. But to locals, Punta Cometa is known as Cerro Sagrado, or Sacred Hill. Here, people live and die by the rhythms of the sea—keenly attuned to its ebb and flow, ever-captivated by its mysteries.
Mexican filmmaker Mariano Rentería Garnica first visited Punta Cometa as a tourist. At the top, overlooking the ocean, he encountered Azucena, a young girl selling food to tourists. Watching her, Garnica told The Atlantic, “there was something about the naturalness of her relationship with the environment...it was as if those rocks and cliffs were her playground. At that moment, I thought that all these people—myself included—were guests in her home.”
The vision of the girl by the sea never left Garnica. He returned to the peninsula with his camera, which he trained on Azucena and a local fisherman, Wicho. The result, The World in a Corner, is an evocative meditation on human life and its conflicting forces: feast and famine, civilization and wilderness, pleasure and suffering.
“People think things are forever,” says the fisherman as he tells the almost Biblical story of the floods and overfishing that have plagued the peninsula. “People think that things don’t end...until they do.”
Garnica’s sweeping cinematography transports us to Punta Cometa’s dreamy shores, where the story of a single life can feel cosmic. (Some of the compositions recall Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life.)
“I wanted the film to feel like we were visiting this place for one day,” said Garnica. “That’s why the camera arrives in Punta Cometa in the first scene, and by the end of the film, when the subjects return to their homes, the camera stays alone in the dark.”
Author: Emily Buder
About This Series
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.