52 Seconds

52 Seconds

  • Ecuador
  • 93
  • PG
  • Javier Andrade

After a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits the coast of Ecuador, causing complete devastation in just 52 seconds, documentarian Javier Andrade returns to his hometown of Portoviejo to survey the damage. His unique perspective as a local permits him to capture aspects of natural disaster not normally noticed: the silence left behind; how an earthquake doesn’t shake but moves like water, displacing rather than imploding things; the fact that people still smile and laugh even during the worst. The least obvious and most important details are those expressed by his family, when his father admits he’d rather focus on other people’s pain than his own, and when his grandmother shares the family’s secret chicken stew recipe during a series of aftershocks. After a near-death experience, every moment becomes precious because it could be the last. By looking at the earthquake from the Andrade family’s point of view, we find its epicentre. Angie Driscoll

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