kottke.org posts about Julio Cesar Cu Camara

The Sewage Diver

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 07, 2019

In this artfully made short film by Esteban Arrangoiz, we meet Julio César Cú Cámara, “a man who has found long lasting contentment in a dirty job: diving into the sewers and water treatment plants of Mexico City to clear blockages and reduce the risk of floods”.

As Arrangoiz writes, “Mexico is undergoing multiple crises: humanitarian, corruption, garbage. This film shows us how through his work, a human being is capable of finding beauty, pleasure and the essence of his humanity inside the detritus. This moves me, gives me hope and compels me to make movies. I think Mexico needs stories like these.”

As he’s diving, Cámara narrates his experience:

I imagine here feels like being in outer space. I feel alone in space, just like I’m alone at the bottom of the sump, under the sewage waters. And I feel good. I feel the pressure of the water. I feel like it’s embracing me. I feel like the water is holding me. The water is protecting me, a little. And I don’t want to stop feeling this.

The opening sequence, of Cámara in his diving suit being lowered into a sewage reservoir, is amazing, like something out of a 70s sci-fi film.

Update: From Edible Geography, a transcript of a talk by Cámara as well as some Q&A with the audience.

I’m fascinated by the job that I do. Even though not many people see it or know about it, I believe we do a very important job for all of us. Sometimes you can’t stop the pumping plant or you can’t dig up the street and get to the sewage pipes from the surface. That’s when we come in. It’s a very satisfying job. I like knowing that I am part of a system working to help keep the city safe.