After nearly a century and a quarter as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is beset by economic crisis and political chaos. Much of the havoc can be blamed on Hurricane Maria, but the U.S. government wasn’t especially mindful of its citizens—who don’t vote in federal elections and have no elected representative in D.C.—even before the 2018 storm left a trail of death and devastation.
Moving in Place, the finale of the Caribbean in Motion film series playing at MoAD for the last five weeks, gives voice to several twentysomething Puerto Ricans on the island, in New York and Florida. Perennially cheerful yet palpably concerned, they grapple with a complicated present and an uncertain future.
A current of injustice runs just below the surface of their testimonies; it’s neither fair nor right that these educated, generous people should encounter so many hurdles contributing to Puerto Rico’s recovery. Moving in Place, which screens Wednesday, Aug. 7, evokes the inequitable power relationship between the U.S. and the tiny territory, and asks us to hear the lingering echoes of colonialism and exploitation.
Filmmakers Lyka Sethi and Geoffrey Iwata would have better served their subjects—and their talking-head documentary—by editing their interviews with greater rigor. As it is, Moving in Place is like eavesdropping on a series of conversations: heartfelt, earnest and in the moment. —Michael Fox