The biographical documentary Life After Babylon: The Jungle Diaries features the stories of four ex-pats from the United States and Israel who have relocated to Costa Rica to create alternative lifestyles. They share defiant perspectives on life and the status quo as well as a consensus on what the Babylonian system signifies in their former homes: excessive consumerism, environmental devastation for profit, monopoly of political power by the ruling elites, economic inequity, perpetual warfare to maintain the status of Empire. They opted out of the system to pursue an alternate path of self-discovery and healing that honors their innermost gifts and talents in tune with the abundance of the natural environment that surrounds them. The messy jungle, unruly rainforest climate, and stunning raw beauty of the flora and fauna are both a cinematic and psychological backdrop for personal catharsis, reinventing oneself and creating a new productive and fulfilling life.
Both descent and dissent play a pivotal role in the documentary and serve as a tableau of the mental and emotional processes empowering these characters to transmute past pain into present joy, attachment to victimhood into potentiated agency. Their personal struggles and triumphs also echo a resonant process taking place in the world at large. The growing disillusionment with the establishment saw its expression in the Occupy movement and other recent civil disobedience milestones. We are at an unprecedented point in human history where those on the periphery of power recognize their own agency in creating a more just world, whether though political action at home or relocating to countries with a more humane record towards its citizens and the environment. It can be debated whether ex-pat communities such as this one in Costa Rica offer complete and viable examples for self-sustaining ecological bioregional communities in the face of world instability through peak oil, climate chaos and political turmoil. Yet this documentary clearly affirms the necessity for the existence of such communities and their continued evolution towards solutions.
Life After Babylon gleans that the personal is universal, and even more so in a globalized inter-connected world. By revealing intimate insights about endings and beginning on the journey of life it invites all of us into the story of becoming and transformation. This is as much a political process of empowerment as it is a call to spiritual awakening. A positive invitation to truly live the sentiment we often echo but fail to fully embody: be the change we wish to see in the world.
This documentary piece is part of a broader artistic vision to continue gathering ex-pat and dissident perspectives in the region. One possible continuation to the film concept is an ongoing online storytelling project that will serve as a forum for discussion of the most pressing issues facing alternative living communities at present.