Private Project

The Surrounding World

In the heart of a Caribbean island, images, words and sounds create a rural symphony, while the long time expected progress arrives opening more questions than answers...

  • Wendy P. Espinal
  • Wendy P. Espinal
  • Annerys Rodríguez
  • Carla Jovine
  • Wendy P. Espinal
  • Sebastián Cabrera Chelín
  • Darío A. Scapellatto (Direct Sound)
  • Denis Godoy (Sound Design)
  • Rocío Gattinoni
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    El Mundo Que Nos Rodea
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Ethnography, Nature
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 31, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    23,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Dominican Republic
  • Country of Filming:
    Dominican Republic
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano
    La Habana
    December 10, 2019
    World Premiere
    Official Selection - Documentary Competition
Director Biography - Wendy P. Espinal

Dominican producer and documentary filmmaker based between the Dominican Republic and Spain. Her work as a filmmaker is built on research, process and meaning.
She has worked in multiple cultural and film projects, actively participating in their production, including feature films like “Holy Beasts” (L.A. Guzmán & I. Cárdenas, 2019), “Cocote” (N.C. de los Santos – Locarno Film Festival Signs of Life Best Feature Film 2017), “Petra” (J. Rosales, 2018), “El Rey de la Habana” (A. Villaronga, 2015), “El Cosmonauta” (N. Alcalá, 2013);
With the short films "The Harvest", “Food”, “Mujeres Tierra” and “The Surrounding World” (to be premiered at Havana International Film Festival 2019), her work as a director has been supported by Programa Ibermedia, Fonprocine Dominican Republic, Berlinale Talents Guadalajara, Iberdoc, UN Women, MiradasDoc, Directed by Women Spain, and other international organizations and film festivals.
She graduated from UNAPEC's School of Arts and Communications, the National Theatre School of Santo Domingo, and has a MFA from Université Sorbonne Paris 1 / Universidade de Évora / Universitá degli Studi di Padova as part of an Erasmus Mundus Master Program. She’s also trained in international workshops with Susana Barriga, María José Díez, Marcos Pimentel, Pedro Loeb, Belkis Vega, Eduardo Milewicz, Bob McAndrew, Hernán Musaluppi, Lucrecia Martel, Tanya Valette, Eliseo Altunaga, among other renowned filmmakers.
Together with associate producer Carla Jovine (Candela, El Rey de la Habana, María Montéz, Los Fabulosos), she started the 1981 Cinema Collective, an independent film production company based in Santo Domingo, which aims to develop and produce narrative and documentary films with an important cultural quest and artistic sense to rethink Caribbean film languages, while building coproduction bridges throughout the iberoamerican region.

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Director Statement

I met the rural community of La Ciénaga de Manabao which was barely reachable in an all-terrain vehicle, even when the rivers allowed it... I went to that remote place to disconnect (from others and myself), and, at the same time, to connect (with others and myself). The encounter with nature would mean reconnection.
I lived in the capital, on the coast, and I traveled from the sea to immerse myself in the mountains, to discover new ways of daily living in the heart of a Caribbean island. There, life was lived even more inwards; while, from the outside, those places were unknown.
I started filming in that place looking for a documentary about the islander’s identity. Something about that other way of isolation caught me; in this case, without a sea. However, during the research process, another reality hit my camera. What was happening over there was much more direct and imminent. At last, the world around them was going to get closer. "Progress" was arriving, and with it many more questions than answers.
On the editing table, everything became fully evident. The story I found was not the one I went looking for. That's when "The Surrounding World " finally took shape.
My personal relationship with the community, eased the documentary process and allowed me to capture that environment, that way of life, and what was to come. My biggest challenge was to work with the characters as a collective and to make nature and the place itself the protagonist of the story.
I hope that the viewer can travel there and live a bit of the process of a transforming environment. A transformation that becomes more complex between hopes and contradictions.
There is little audiovisual record of the Dominican rural landscape and with this project I also hope to make a contribution to this important ethnographic heritage. With this film I complete a series of audiovisual works through which I have been reflecting and questioning about the imaginary of the Dominican countryside and how it is in the process of evolution.
All this also motivates me as part of an emerging group of new Dominican documentary filmmakers, who want to develop captivating projects, exploring the Dominican reality, carving it, connecting with it in a particular way and revealing multiple perspectives, with a cinematic and authentic language.