Title – Six Months to Salvation (2015)
Director – Lorenzo Benitez (feature debut)
Cast – Lorenzo Benitez, James Grant, Alex Mann, Will Noonan, Callum Ryan, Declan Scott
Plot – A documentary look at seven volunteer English teachers from Australia who begin to gradually confront the colonial implications of their work in rural Thailand and true impact of “voluntourism”.
“It does sometimes seem like teaching isn’t having a massive impact”
Review by Eddie on 17/07/2018
An independently made and distributed Australian documentary that examines the implications and true meanings of “voluntourism”, Six Months to Salvation is a raw and rough feature film but also a feature that asks questions worth asking and offers an insight into the reality of what many would consider a life changing experience.
Premiering in New York City and receiving a limited VOD release, as well as touring successfully at universities around America, Salvation is a fine calling card for its young director Lorenzo Benitez, who as well as being a member of the documentaries real-life cast, finds himself behind the camera in a remote and rural area of Thailand where himself and fellow high-school graduates from Australia sign up to teach English for 6 – 12 months to children in Thailand to prepare them for an ever increasing global landscape.
While we never get to commit ourselves fully to the plight of Benitez and his co-stars, Salvation offers an honest and open appraisal of these young men and their experiences in a landscape and situation that is foreign to both them and their students and Salvation offers us a glimpse into what these type of programs might mean to a world that is in danger of losing its unique flavours, should the globalisation of English speaking cultures continue to dominate the landscape.
It’s something that many from Western countries would rather not think about, while the whole concept of “do-gooders” heading to underprivileged countries and communities to bring hope and light to the less fortunate is examined by Benitez as he and the audience begin to question the true meaning of these such activities.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to know the subjects within Salvation more, as emotionally it would’ve given the documentary a whole different level while as to be expected Benitez as a first time film-maker could’ve found ways to trim Salvation’s runtime shortly with certain scenes and segments running too long in length but counteracting much of this is an eye for starkly beautiful imagery with Benitez beautifully capturing the surrounds of this beautiful country in a way in which a more polished feature would’ve overlooked.
Final Say –
Offering some intriguing and honest insights into a part of Western culture that has become ever more prominent, Six Months to Salvation is a unique and eye-opening documentary that despite being rough around the edges, should be compulsory viewing for students out there considering their after school moves.
3 scooters out of 5