Documentaries and productions




Aganetha, Cornelio, Pedro and Jacobo live in the Mennonite colonies of El Savinal and El Capulin settled in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. These central European origins communities live as two centuries ago and have wandered around the world for some 500 years in search of a place where they can practice their religion freely in the ancient Plautdietsch language. The two colonies are around 80 km apart, both looking like a typical German farming community of the 19th Century, with large families devoted to working the land; but they are fiercely independent and different one from another. The colony of El Savinal lives in isolation, to preserve its belief in an austere existence, in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. It rejects any modern technology such as radios, televisions and music, symbols of a worldly, consumer society. Life in the colony of El Capulin some years ago underwent huge changes, accepting innovations as electricity and cars. The film tells the stories of four Mennonites living in the two colonies. Someone keeps himself anchored to the past, someone is now no longer able to resist the encroachment of the outside world and have to choose either to let it in. In balance between tradition and modernity, between past and future, the four protagonists are longing for their “perfect world”. AGANETHA is 32 years old and works as a dentist at El Sabinal. She's married with Hierard and has 7 children. She learnt her job from her father, who moved to El Capulìn. Aganetha's family is poor, they have some land but because of the increased price of the diesel, necessary to pump the water needed to irrigate the fields, they were forced to stop irrigating and they lost the harvest. Electricity could change the situation but in El Sabinal it simply doesn't exist, because of the rigid principles imposed by the religion. The more orthodox members of the community, including church ministries, are refusing to even entertain the idea of modern technology. On the other hand, the progressives are keen to accept the Mexican government’s offer of an electricity supply, even without the conservatives approval. They are aware that in the future this might split the colony in two. Aganetha and Hierard think about moving to El Capulìn, but it is a difficult choice both because of economical and religious reasons. They decide to stay. CORNELIO is 52 years old and has 11 children. Cornelio is one of the most enterprising. He works with the Mexicans and sells his cheese within the borders of the United States. Some years ago he struggles to make the leap forward that could save both his family and people from inevitable economic decline. But even if he opened the door to the outside world, he is also worried about the unwelcome consequences of this choice. Innovations have instilled a desire for even more, particularly amongst the youngsters. The sudden opening to the external world caught this community unprepared. PEDRO is 40 year old and lives in El Capulìn with his wife and 6 children. Since the colony accepted the electricity, he has decided to go to Bolivia with his entire family to make a new start, in accordance with their traditions. Besides difficulties, Pedro's family starts to get used to a new way of life. Colonia Florida in Bolivia is a place even more cut off from the rest of the world, but at the same time it is closer to the spirit of their forefathers. JACOBO is 21 years old. He finds the discipline of life in the Mennonite colony hard to accept. He would like to venture into the outside world. Jacobo decides to cross the frontier with United States and try to start over a new life. What he most needs is more freedom.


Directed by: Diego D'Innocenzo, Marco Leopardi

Current affairs, social issues
Human stories

Log line:
Nel Deserto del Chihuahua, in Messico, in alcune colonie Mennonite la vita scorre come due secoli fa. Ma l’arrivo dell’elettricità ha cominciato a sconvolgere il loro “mondo perfetto”. Il rifiuto del progresso tecnologico ha portato i Mennoniti più conservatori ad un vero esodo verso uno dei luoghi più isolati della terra: la foresta boliviana. Il film racconta la storia di quattro personaggi provenienti dalle colonie Mennonite di El Sabinal, dove ogni forma di moderna tecnologia è bandita, ed El Capulìn,

Awards: “No borders” National Geographic Channel International, Vincitore Italian best project 2005 - Religion Today (Trento, Roma) 2007, Miglior documentario - Festival Internazionale del cinema di Salerno 2007 – Miglior documentario Big Screen Festival. Anthropology 2007 International “Gold Panda” (CHINA) 2007, Miglior documentario -

Directed by: Diego D'Innocenzo, Marco Leopardi
Produced by: Terra for National Geographic Channel International
Cinematographer: Marco Leopardi
Screenplay: Diego D'Innocenzo, Marco Leopardi
Screenwriter: Diego D'Innocenzo, Roberta Cortella
Editor: Chiara Ronchini
Sound Designer: Luca Bertolin
Music: Roberto Gori, Edoardo Bignozzi

Production: TERRA
Broadcaster: National Geographic Channel International, Sundance Channel
Client: National Geographic Channel International
Distributed by: National Geographic Channel International
Run time: 70
Release date: 2011
Language: Spanish, Plautdietsch
Subtitles: Italian, English

Comunicato National Geographic Channel 11_Nat Geo_Comunicato.pdf (0.5 MB )