Searching for Simplicity
Review by Sara Ritchie
What resonated with me in the documentary Searching for Simplicity, filmed by Charlottetown PEI’s born and raised Andrew MacCormack, more than even the dramatic footage and scenery, was how he starts off saying that he doesn’t want this documentary to be about him, and yet as he recognizes within the film, this movie is about him. It’s about him and his experience traveling and living in South America, it’s about the people who were gracious enough to sit and talk to him about their country and culture, and more than anything it’s about humankind.
Starting off with a question about how we perceive other cultures based on mass media and the disconnect between the way a society is represented versus what it is in reality, this documentary explores on a very real and connective level what the culture of South America is like. This documentary highlights Andrew’s travels through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil and yet the message was the same—by showcasing local people and people traveling in South America, he captured people who are striving for authentic experiences and living within the moment.
This documentary is focused on helping viewers to change their preconceived notions, to be open to the exploration of life, and while the imagery is astonishing, it is Andrew’s presence both onscreen and as a narrator that pulls his message through. At one point, he is sitting at Machu Pichu and the look of sheer wonder on his face transcended the screen, transporting me to that same emotion and allowing me to actually feel it duplicated within me. Powerful.
More than anything, this documentary gives you itchy feet, makes you want to get up and travel to wherever—even if it is just down the street you walk everyday to stop and to see what’s going on around you. To really engage with those little moments that we take for granted and to perhaps question how we can’t help but be united with people all around the world, living their lives, embracing their culture and pursuing their passions.
“Simple” or “simplicity” is a word frequently used in this documentary—not just by the filmmaker, but also by the people being interviewed—and it’s quite appropriate. While the scenery is overwhelmingly breathtaking, it is the simple things in life that unite people, and the people interviewed in this documentary seem to recognize that in abundance.
While Searching for Simplicity is focused on a largely ignored part of the world, it was about the world at large and being open to the experience instead of the hype. Andrew’s commitment to sharing his personal journey, combined with the genuine desire of the interviewees to share their opinions of their country’s culture, conveys the message that we all share a common humanity, and embracing that while celebrating our differences is essential to creating a culture that can let go of perceptions and opinions that are based on the misinformation that we are inundated with in the daily media.