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A Crack in the Mountain

Tells the story of the incredible, recently discovered, world's largest cave passage and the opportunity and challenges it presents to the small, impoverished Vietnamese community nearby.

A printer-friendly version of this page 99 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Alastair Evans
Produced by Alastair Evans
Writer: Alastair Evans
Executive Producer: Greg Passmore
Editor: Alastair Evans
Camera: Alastair Evans, Ryan Deboodt
Sound: Saso Puckovski
Visual Effects Sequences: Can Cangor
Graphic Design: Raphaëlle Cohen
Music: Musicbed
A Marlovski Media Production

"A must-see for those interested in environmental controversies, development and the environment." Robert Krueger, Prof. Social Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: 99-minutes and 53-minutes.

Deep in the jungle of Central Vietnam, lies a magnificent underground kingdom. Hang Son Dọng which translates as "mountain river cave", is located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bàng National Park in Quang B́nh Province. It is the largest cave passage in the world and a place of spectacular beauty; the national park is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

In 2014, Son Doong's future was thrown into doubt when plans were announced to build a cable car into the cave to attract tourism. With many arguing that this would destroy its delicate eco-system and the local community divided over the benefits this development would bring, A Crack in the Mountain follows those caught up in the unfolding events.

Beautifully shot and scored, the film uses this narrative as a lens through which to investigate related themes such as the challenges of modern day exploration, environmental conservation and sustainability, and the perils of operating as an activist in a country such as Vietnam—where freedom of speech is severely curtailed.

Grade Level: 7 - 12 , College, Adults
US Release Date: 2023     Copyright Date: 2022
DVD ISBN: 1-961192-00-4

"The film is breathtaking, as Alastair Evans captures Hang Son Doong's beauty incredibly. The imagery alone nails down the importance of keeping these caves untouched by anything resembling corporate greed."
Alan Ng, Film Threat

"A scrupulous look at the exploitation of a natural wonder."
Phil Hoad, The Guardian

"Insanely beautiful...A compelling documentary. 4 stars."
Danny Leigh, The Financial Times

"Showcasing the spectacular beauty and sublime mystery of Hang Son Doong cave, A Crack in the Mountain exposes the complex trade-offs between environmental conservation and economic development at the heart of ongoing debates over the future of tourist access to this little-known natural wonder. Drawing on a diverse cast of voices, including those of local residents and business owners, expatriate tour operators, foreign visitors, scholars, and a passionate Vietnamese activist, the film effectively conveys the challenges facing environmental politics in Vietnam today and explores the prospects for sustainable tourism in a rapidly developing country. An excellent choice for classroom use, this film is sure to capture the attention of students and spark lively debate on these challenging yet important issues."
Jacob Weger, Lecturer of Environmental Studies, Seton Hall University

"If you were to step into the world's largest cave - backpack strapped, flashlight on - just what would you find? A Crack in the Mountain tells the story of a mega-ecological site at the acme of globalization. Featuring diverse perspectives of an uncertain future in Vietnam, this film is sure to strike at the heartstrings. Students of global studies and environmental humanities will be eager to listen to the international voices of the explorers, business owners, visitors, and environmental activists."
Hieu Phung, Assistant Professor of Global Studies-Asia, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

"A Crack In The Mountain focuses on management priorities at Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave inside Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam. Government officials, private businesses, and environmentalists share differing opinions on whether it should be a 'must-see' or 'must-save' destination. Instead, this documentary presents a 'must-sustain' solution that relies on a mix of social, environmental, and economic benefits for balancing public enjoyment with resource preservation."
Mark Morgan, Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, University of Missouri

"Visually stunning, A Crack in the Mountain captures the natural wonder of the Hang Son Doong cave in the shadow of debates about economic and infrastructural development and environmental impact. This film depicts the perspectives of local environmental activists, foreign tourists, and local (foreign and Vietnamese) business owners to trace what rapid change looks like in contemporary Vietnam and introduce questions of value from multiple viewpoints. The film is highly recommended for courses that seek to unpack the politics of development, local livelihood, and who can and should make decisions about environmental conservation."
Sarah Grant, Associate Professor of Anthropology, California State University-Fullerton

"A Crack in the Mountain offers a well-rounded examination of the tensions between development, environmental conservation, and environmental commodification. We see many perspectives offering insights into how they understand nature and its role in society as an artifact, an opportunity, and an organism. Beautifully shot, this film is a must-see for those interested in environmental controversies, development and the environment, and a clear example of the social construction of nature."
Robert Krueger, Professor of Social Science and Policy Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Author, Adventures in Sustainable Urbanism

"Stimulating...Striking. 4 stars."
Tom Dawson, Total Film

"Does a fantastic job of capturing the majesty of the place and delving into the knotty issues of its ongoing development. 4 stars."
Alistair Harkness, The Scotsman

Simon Ings, New Scientist

"Compelling...Breathtakingly immersive."
Alex Ramon, Sight and Sound

"Gorgeously shot...Leaves a lasting message."
Beth Webb, Empire Magazine

"Evans delivers a thought-provoking documentary without judgement which shows you a magical and wondrous world."
Maria Duarte, Morning Star (Film of the Week)

"Compelling...Unmissable stuff...Breathtaking scenery."
Adam Ball and Van Connor, OffScreen

"Magical, remarkable, dramatic, indescribable, otherworldly... A Crack In the Mountain is a portal to understanding the balances to be negotiated in a dynamic and ever-changing world. It is an experience that enables the viewer to become a fellow-traveler to an edenic world, all the while appreciating what is at risk and what obligations we have to protect, preserve and sustain it."
Herbert Paine, Broadway World

"Thought- provoking, stimulating, powerful...4 green thumbs up."
Carol Kahn, Green Living Magazine

"Beautifully captures the tension between the preservation of Earth's natural wonders and the exploitation of nature to satisfy human greed."
Al Nigrin, New Jersey Stage

"A compelling, thought-provoking, and visually appealing documentary. Highly Recommended."
Morgan Bond, SUNY Oswego, Educational Media Reviews Online

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
* 2 Versions of the film on the same DVD: 99 mins and 53 mins
* SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
* Scene selection

Awards and Festivals
Best International Documentary Feature, Sedona International Film Festival
Film of the Festival / Best Documentary Feature / Best Director, Oxford International Film Festival
Outstanding Achievement in Film and Global Impact Award, Richmond Film Festival
Enlightenment Award, DocUtah International Film Festival
Vanguard Award, Documentary Feature & Best Director of a Documentary Feature, Idyllwild International Festival of CInema
Best Cinematography, Awareness Film Festival
Best Film of the Year, Nordic Adventure Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Sonoma International Film Festival
Louisville International Festival of Film
Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
Breckenridge Film Festival
Boston Film Festival
Berkshire International Film Festival
Kansas City FilmFest
Omaha Film Festival
Malibu Film Festival
Phoenix Film Festival
Orlando Film Festival
Liverpool Film Festival
Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
Kendal Mountain Film Festival
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival
New York City Independent Film Festival
New Jersey Film Festival
Tacoma Film Festival
Riverside International Film Festival
Eastern Sierra Mountain Film Festival
Eastern Oregon Film Festival
Catalina Film Festival
DMZ Documentary Film Festival
Viet Film Fest
Fairhope Film Festival
Mountain & Adventure Film Festival
NorthwestFest International Documentary Festival
Martha's Vineyard Environmental Film Festival
Boulder Environmental Film Festival

Asian Studies
Developing World
Global Issues
Local Economies
Sustainable Development

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