Film reviews from the Breckenridge Festival of Film

Summit Daily News
Summit County, CO
June 5, 2008
“Strong Coffee: The Story of Cafe Femenino.”
Documentary. 48 min. Playing at 3 p.m. Friday at the Speakeasy.

“Strong Coffee” takes two powerful social injustices — and rights them in one turn. I was first exposed to fair trade coffee and its work when the High Country Conservation Center brought the small Patagonia environmental film festival through Breckenridge last September, and I caught “Birdsong & Coffee.” Both “Birdsong & Coffee” and “Strong Coffee” address the insane fact that while here in the United States we might easily throw down 2 bucks for a cup of coffee, the farmer who grew the beans in some far off country makes less than that for a day’s wage.

In fact, in “Strong Coffee,” they point out how although the coffee market often varies — this does not affect farmers. The coffee companies stay relatively rich and the farmers stay poor.

In the film, there are people and conscious business organizations working to make a fair trade in the community of coffee growers in Peru, and at the same time, the women are becoming aware of their role in the business and community.

One woman in “Strong Coffee” notes how the men sometimes would not come back from the market with very much money after a harvest, having spent it at the bar. She also noted how girls’ educations were often sacrificed in tight money times.

Through meetings, the women came to realize they had the capabilities to grow and sell the coffee themselves. With the help of the nongovernment organizations, they created the brand name Cafe Femenino, through which they sell coffee they grew on their own land.

With the money in the women’s hands, “Strong Coffee” shows that the women have more self-esteem, along with plans to educate their children, including daughters, and put their money back into the community structure. It is apparent through this film that something magical happens when several grassroots and well-meaning groups intertwine and work together.