• Charlie Vogelsang

Arica (2022) Review


This is a powerful documentary following the lawsuit against a Swedish mining company which reportedly dumped toxic waste in the Chilean desert, leading to thousands of local residents falling ill.


Throughout history, there have sadly been many giant corporations that have continued to serve only their interests. Arica chronicles another great injustice upon the world - interrogating the alleged actions of a giant Swedish mining company, Boliden, that was believed to have dumped 20,000 tonnes of hazardous waste in a city called Arica in northern Chile.


Naturally, these people were gravely affected by the horrific waste that was ‘disposed’ of near them, and developed serious illnesses such as cancer. Directors Lars Edman and William Johansson tell the frightful tale through the story of a group of survivors who are seeking justice.

The clearest message from Arica is that giant companies often try to stifle and intimidate the ‘little people’, but a united community is much stronger than they realise

This film plays as a sequel to the documentary film Toxic Playground which first uncovered the suspected atrocities from Boliden. Toxic Playground led to the largest corporate accountability case that Scandinavia had ever seen. Arica pushes further into the true story about what happened, and dives deeper into important testimonies recorded both in and outside the courts.


In terms of filmmaking styles, this alternates between beautiful aerial shots and close-ups to give the audience a full picture of the country. This is accompanied by an authoritative narration and crucial testimonies from the disaster’s victims. At times, it can be hard to watch, but this only emphasises the effectiveness of the filmmaking style.

There’s nothing overly flashy in the film; instead, it feels natural in delivering the story throughout. Many serious documentaries of this calibre often force the films to be hours long, but Arica keeps things tight enough to keep you hooked and wanting more.


By the end of the film, audiences will either be shocked or angered by what transpired. This is many people's reality, and yet the terrible actions play out like a villain's origin in a superhero film. The clearest message from Arica is that giant companies often try to stifle and intimidate the ‘little people’, but a united community is much stronger than they realise. It’s clear that the horrors shown in this film should never happen again - and hopefully that will be the greatest lesson we can learn from the ordeal.


It’s understandable why this documentary has caught the attention of many and won numerous awards, as it’s both thrilling and moving at the same time. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it’s always hard to look away. In short, Arica is an important film that you definitely do not want to miss.


8.5/10


Arica is available in cinemas from Friday 6 May