Yakona, meaning "water rising" in the language of the indigenous people of the San Marcos River in Texas. This multi-award winning film is a visual journey through the crystal clear waters ... See full summary »

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Tony Two Hawks Molina ...
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Jack Hays
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Yakona, meaning "water rising" in the language of the indigenous people of the San Marcos River in Texas. This multi-award winning film is a visual journey through the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River and its headwaters at Spring Lake, which is home to seven threatened or endangered species. The story takes you from prehistoric times, through the modern era, on an impressionistic journey from the perspective of the river. While filming, many extraordinary changes occurred surrounding the springs and river, including the removal of the Aquarena Springs theme park, the restoration of Spring Lake and the uncovering of ancient human remains. We follow the river from source to sea, through the changing seasons, interpreting the river's time and memory by documenting the relationship between the natural world and humanity. Yakona speaks directly with its beauty while appealing to a higher nature. You begin to understand this is a river that yearns to remain unchanged despite ... Written by Yakona

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8 March 2014 (USA)  »

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Oak Cliff Film Festival - Grand Jury Award Documentary Feature. See more »

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A Beautiful, but Shallow, Picture of the San Marcos River
17 March 2014 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

The film Yakona was enthusiastically received by a large crowd at Austin's Paramount Theatre during its world premiere during the SXSW Film Festival. The film is absolutely exquisite in terms of its nature photography and editing. The film was an attempt to capture the beauty and the journey of the San Marcos River its headwaters to the sea. It also is an attempt to capture how at one time native peoples lived in harmony with the river, but they have been displaced by the constant encroachment of the white man and modern civilization. While the filming is beautiful and subtle, the political message seemed quite simplistic and lacking in subtly and sophistication. It seemed to be a simplistic message of preserve the river at all costs against the forces of modernity. Actually, the lack of political and historical sophistication was as stunning as the beautiful photography.

The employment of actors to recreate the native peoples and the colonizers seemed like a strange choice. It created a simplistic mythology of how the natives lived in absolute harmony with nature and the thuggish white men with guns came and destroyed that simple beauty. The issues around development and modernization are so much more complicated than this simplistic narrative suggests.

I know I'm supposed to like a film like this, but the wordless nature of the film left me quite bored and disengaged. Many times without and narrative or explanation it was difficult to figure out just what we were seeing in the imagery. This may be the type of film where some people love it and others hate it. Words and language are some of the most valuable tools that our civilization has developed and the absence of them left very little room for complexity. The beautiful imagery was used as cudgel for a radical environmental agenda. An image can say much that words cannot easily convey, but words can also add remarkable depth and detail that is left unexplained by absence of words and narrative explanation. Still, my review is beautiful, but lacking in substance and depth.


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