Adelante con el Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa [Official Selection, Nicaragua]

Directed by Lee Fritz and Jenna Morse

Adelante con el Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa [Official Selection, Nicaragua] Preview

Solar power rejuvenates a Nicaraguan village

Adelante Con El Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa is a short documentary set in rural Nicaragua that follows a group of women through their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle. With the Nicaraguan civil war barely in the rear view, the village of Sabana Grande has created jobs and rebuilt their strength as a community through the building, usage, and distribution of renewable technologies.

Adelante con el Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa is an OFFICIAL SELECTION

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Watch the trailer!

'Adelante Con El Sol' -- Teaser Trailer from CalmDog Productions on Vimeo.

Synopsis for Adelante con el Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa

Adelante Con El Sol: The Solar Women of Totogalpa is a short documentary set in rural Nicaragua that follows a group of women through their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle. With the Nicaraguan civil war barely in the rear view, the village of Sabana Grande has created jobs and rebuilt their strength as a community through the building, usage, and distribution of renewable technologies.

In the early 1990's an NGO was formed in the area called Grupo Fenix. The group received a grant to come and help aid land mine victims from the war and introduce them back into their communities by creating jobs for them related to renewable energy. The group taught these landmine victims to build and sell photovoltaic panels and become self-sufficient again.

The success of Grupo Fenix, led by Professor Susan Kinne of the Engineering University in Nicaragua helped spawn other groups in the area who also wanted to learn solar technology. Las Mujeres Solares (The Solar Women of Totogalpa) was one of the groups that was established after Grupo Fenix.

Las Mujeres Solares is a group that consists of approximately 20 women and their families who have made it their job to design, build, and sell solar ovens as well as other renewable technologies. Before the group got started, the women were housewives first and foremost and many of them had no formal education. The women felt inspired by the idea of running their own cooperative based around the philosophy that sustainability is a process and you have to fully commit to it for it to be able to work.

The women of Sabana Grande are doing work that is so unique that many international students and professors come and study with them. They have yearly technological exchanges with Cornell University who collaborates with them on how to build better and more efficient ovens year after year. Adelante Con El Sol explores the world of 'slow development', a phrase coined by Susan Kinne, which describes the process of developing/modernizing a community through long-term relationships as opposed to overstimulating them with resources they are not ready to maintain. Susan Kinne, an American, has been in Nicaragua for twenty-two years and is now a permanent resident. She stands as a great example of the the commitment it takes as a foreigner, to have a lasting impact on the transformation of a community.

Even as Nicaragua remains the second poorest country in the world, Las Mujeres Solares have succeeded in reinventing their community through technologies that many western countries still struggle to even talk about. The community of Sabana Grande has become a microcosm of what it takes to truly live a sustainable lifestyle; they are proof that it is possible to be wholly fulfilled and still preserve the world we live in.

Statement from directors Lee Fritz and Jenna Morse

The discussion around environmental issues these days is generally a pretty dire experience. Oil spills, carbon emissions, and foreign fuels seem tailor-made to snuff out any optimism that you might have started off with, and whenever a green technology forces its way into the spotlight, it is defined more by its limitations than by the good it can do. So if something can break that trend and carve out a thankful breath of fresh air, it deserves to be shared.

The Solar Women of Totogalpa come from conditions that many in developed nations might describe as deprivation, but the positivity and optimism with which they approach their work comes as a contrast to expectations. With the starting point of a solar cooker - a humble box of wood and glass - they have transformed their community. Environmental degradation from deforestation is being reversed. Many of the jobless are at work. A rural community far from 'the grid' is powered. Women formerly relegated to housework have gained new agency and control over their lives.

This story is a striking reminder of the empowerment that sustainability can and should represent. The conversation does not need to linger on the negative, on the sacrifice, but can instead progress to the opportunities at hand.


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Film Credits

  • Lee Fritz: Co-Director, Co-Producer, Story, Cinematographer/DP, Editor, Sound Editor, Sound Mixer, Boom Operator, Digital Effects
  • Jenna Morse: Co-Director, Co-Producer, Story, Cinematographer/DP, Editor, Sound Mixer, Boom Operator