This is an absorbing 42-minute documentary on the Little Belize Mennonite colony. Little Belize is the home of approximately 3,000 Old Colony Mennonites, living on about 100 square kilometers of land. The Old Colony Mennonites are Plain Anabaptist cousins of the Amish, with numerous similarities to them.
The producers of the documentary, made for the Deutsche Welle network, were granted permission to film some families in the colony. The people we encounter come across as very human and likeable. A number of them speak English in addition to Plattdeutsch (English is the official language of Belize).
There is Abram, a blacksmith with 20 children, Margareth, whom we meet on a visit to a fabric shop, outcast Wilhelm, the self-taught medical practitioner, Franz, a mechanic who is beginning to “crowd the fence” with his purchase of a smartphone, and a second Abram, an ebullient traditionalist who takes his family to a new community in the Amazon jungle in Peru.
You’ll notice numerous similarities to the Amish, in things like their mode of transportation, clothing, and even auction tradition. The buggies sit lower to the ground on a different style of wheels. The German dialect is different, and the clothing patterns and headwear are as well.
We also see inside an Old Colony school in the film’s opening scene, which brings to mind the Amish-driven education outreach project operating for many years now in a number of colonies. The film actually begins in the Belize colony, but then a large chunk of it is about Abram’s move to Peru, which is fascinating in itself.
The images captured are impressive and beautiful, albeit having a staged feel in a few places. That said, this is a very well-done and worthwhile look into a community of devout and traditional people.
Hat tip to Steve Myers for bringing this film to my attention.
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