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The Independent Critic

Writer/Director
Patrick Christell
Starring
People of Lesotho
Running Time
33 Mins.

 "Mountains of Hope" Review 
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A film that feels somewhat similar in tone to "The Road to Fondwa," Patrick Christell's "Mountains of Hope" sets itself inside the land-locked African nation of Lesotho, a country whose name I'm willing to bet most Americans can't even pronounce. 
   While "Mountains of Hope" lacks the vibrance of "The Road to Fondwa," as a short documentary it is far more successful in balancing the presentation of the people, the problem and those involved in addressing the problem. While many would blame ineffective government for at least a portion of Lesotho's healthcare crisis, Christell has wisely included a key government healthcare official in the film and, as well, he balances between those who are afflicted in the country and the caregivers who are left to do what they can. 
   Much like Haiti, Lesotho struggles with a "brain drain" problem, and "Mountains of Hope" points out that 80% of those who obtain advanced education leave the country, often for the prosperity of nearby South Africa. Christell seems less willing to mask the struggles of the nation with energetic and happy shots, preferring to focus "Mountains of Hope" squarely upon the needs of the nation. While Lesotho was one of the last African nations to really have to deal with HIV/AIDS, it has rapidly become one of the most afflicted nations. Yet, rather than become victimized by this it is awe-inspiring to see how the healthcare professionals in the nation are refusing to fall into denial and are, instead, becoming one of the African continent's most educated and progressive nations in dealing with the crisis. 
   This, of course, leads again to the dilemma of a short documentary sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, a practice that is certainly understandable yet can potentially lead to a perception of bias in promoting, for example, programs that provide free HIV drugs in the nation and the nation's actually having reduced healthcare costs for its people.
   Coincidence? I can't deny I wonder.
   Despite this reservation, "Mountains of Hope" is a well-constructed, informative, entertaining and inspiring film about a country of which Americans know very little. Doctors, nurses, aid workers and the people themselves are banding together and are creating a better Lesotho for everyone.
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