(2012, US, 87 min) Dir Emmanuel Pascal, Andrea Filipe.
An ethnographical docufeature from Pascal and Filipe, the makers of 2009’s Raised Road that followed the titular elevated motorway’s three year construction in the Philippines. Access Road ploughs a similar furrow in the unnarrated documentation of process and progress. A road is built through the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the site of a prospective mine. Trees are felled and rock dug out by bulldozers to make way for the asphalting crews. At the end of the road is the mountain, at which point the demolition crew get to work. The camera seems as interested in the environment and the equipment as it is in the people, keeping itself at a distance to the action being observed. Not everyone will be happy with this perspective being that it casts the workers as ants in the dirt and indeed there are those who have condemned the filmmakers oeuvre as ‘construction porn’ that sides with the devastation being witnessed. Of course an equal amount have taken an opposite view, that the remove places the filmmakers in the God’s eye view of nature, witness to it’s own ravishment. Personally I can see neither vantage point being explicitly portrayed but instead see a process usually hidden from view – one that forms part of our society for good or ill – being documented without prejudice for us to judge ourselves. That diametrically opposing perspectives can be had based on this film speaks volumes, I think, of the directors’ success.