There is a poetic beauty to the otherwise heartbreaking short doc Unaccountable, a riveting documentary directed by Stacey Stone and produced by Diane Mellen that explores the past and present of an area of California surrounding the 350 square miles of the Salton Sea, a rather accidental body of water created in 1905 when the man-made irrigation canals created by the California Development Company where overwhelmed and manifested this inadvertent sea before a solution could be found.
By the 1950s, the Salton Sea was envisioned and marketed as a "Palm Spring with water," a vision brought vividly to life in Uaccountable's intro that can't begin to prepare us for the tragic devastation that follows.
What once was envisioned as a place for idyllic vacationing and even living, has now, as is all too common, become a virtual wasteland of disturbing toxicity and left behind creatures and human beings.
Focusing on the Imperial Valley area located about 60 miles from the Mexican border, Unaccountable focuses less on explanations and more on the painful to view imagery of an area once brimming with excited laughter and happy families and now inundated by dead wildlife, three-headed fish, and two-headed turtles, all signs of the all too familiar human apathy and man-made natural disasters that have allowed the once thriving Salton Sea to be reduced to a shrinking wasteland with its waters being diverted to farms and cities and such a high level of salinity that few species can survive in or near its waters.
Utilizing only voice-over narration by young Mia Davies, Unaccountable often plays out as the wistful remembrances of a child's lost and almost forgotten dreams, an aura complemented by Stone's imagery and Brian Keane's sorrowful, enveloping original score.
Currently on the indie fest circuit, Unaccountable is, indeed, a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant exploration of what it means when human beings are unaccountable to nature and unaccountable to one another. This is what happens when systems utilizes natural resources for selfish pursuits, then attempt to explain away or minimize their actions again and again and again.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation continues to advise that it is safe to swim and play and fish within the Salton Sea. While the vast majority of those who once called the area home have long since left, a hardened eclectic few remain undeterred by the surrounding genetic mutations and toxic airways that have replaced the once promising paradise.
For more information on Unaccountable, visit the film's website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic