Alastair Evans’ environmental documentary A Crack In The Mountain will be showing at the New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, September 11th, 2022. Evan’s documentary showcases the indescribable beauty of Hang Son Doong, the biggest cave passage in the world. Located in Vietnam, Son Doong has been undisturbed by tourists for centuries, allowing the sight to hold onto its magic.
However, when plans were announced to build a cable car in Son Doong, the community became divided; some thought the cable car would bring economic benefits to the community. Others were distraught over the destruction of the fragile infrastructure and ecosystem.
Evans beautifully captures the tension between the preservation of Earth’s natural wonders and the exploitation of nature to satisfy human greed. The film’s cinematography is crisp and clean, making the film visually stunning in addition to its topical nature. The aerial shots of Son Doong are something to be revered and allow the viewer to be immersed in the cave's vast beauty. Visitors of Son Doong who were interviewed for A Crack In The Mountain all individually described the cave as “so beautiful that it seemed like it shouldn’t belong on Earth”.
The documentary attempts to change the negative connotations of caves - that they’re dark, cold, and dangerous. Evans’ documentary will change the perspective of the skeptic; even though caves can have those negative qualities, they are natural wonders that play vital roles in our ecosystem, and they deserve to be protected. A Crack In The Mountain features the opinions of nature conservationists as well as the locals of the area. The viewer will immediately empathize with not only these individuals but the crucial need to preserve what little nature humans have not exploited for our own economic gain.
Preserving this natural wonder is the focal point of the documentary. Will the destruction of nature always be the price to pay to satisfy capitalist ventures? Evans wonderfully explores this tension in his film. The cable car that some want to build in the middle of Son Doong will bring in about 1,000 people per hour. The cave normally has about a couple hundred visitors a year, allowing the fragile ecosystem to be maintained. Turning Son Doong into a tourist attraction will not only damage the ecological standing of the community but also disrupt the tranquility of the site.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Son Doong is its slight anonymity. Despite being the largest and deepest cave on the planet, so few people have been there. This allows Son Doong to hold onto its magic and mystique, but these qualities will be lost if it becomes a tourist attraction. The world has seen this time and time again with natural wonders. They become exploited in the name of capitalism and money, but Evans and those who wish to preserve Son Doong are determined to make sure this doesn't happen to the Vietnamese cave.
Even more incredible, the locals of Phong Nha, Vietnam have been going out on organized missions to explore Son Doong. Due to its size, 70% of the cave had been unexplored, and even reaching the mouth of the cave takes two to three days. However, the exploration of Son Doong is being done in the name of preservation rather than exploitation.
A Crack In The Mountain comes at the perfect time when the climate crisis is at its peak, and it will resonate with viewers who are constantly hearing about the doomed state of our environment. Humanity has always been more interested in what nature can do for us, but through his documentary, Evans brilliantly asks the viewer to reflect on this perspective. We are not above the ecosystem; we are a part of it as much as any other animal, plant, or natural wonder, and we should act accordingly.
A Crack In The Mountain screens at the New Jersey Film Festival on September 11th. The film will be Online for 24 Hours only! Go here for more info and tickets: https://watch.eventive.org/newjerseyfilmfestivalfall2022