“A lot of films have been made around poverty, a lot of guilt-based films, and we thought we could tell this story in a new way that was really tailored to the millennial generation.”
We spoke with filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci about their 8-week experiment in rural Guatemala living on $1 per day, the typical income for this extremely impoverished region. Their inspirational documentary, Living on One Dollar, follows their encounters with hunger, parasites, and the generous local community as they strive to understand first-hand what life is like below the poverty line.
On first entering the Guatemalan community:
“We were four Americans coming into a village where we didn’t have any connections, trying to figure out how to survive, and the kids would come up and just stare at us, watching for hours. It was the kids who really bridged the gap between us and the rest of the community.”
On their living arrangements:
“We lived in a small mud hut and slept right on a small pad on the dirt floor, with two blankets between the four of us. The worst part was that the dirt floor had fleas, and you can see in the film where we’re just covered in red bites. There was one morning where I [Chris] woke up with both giardia [a parasite] and E. coli, and we didn’t know if we had enough money to budget for food, let alone the cost of medicine.”
On farming to help make ends meet:
“We wanted to simulate starting a business in this community, so we took out our own microfinance loan and worked during the day as radish farmers. Trying to do 8 hours of manual labor when we’d only eaten one small bowl of rice and beans, which was all that we could afford, and when we hadn’t had a good night’s sleep, was just debilitating, both physically and mentally.”
On the value of microfinance loans:
“One of the most powerful stories we heard was from Rosa, who is featured in the film. In sixth grade, she had to drop out of school to help feed her family, but she always dreamed of becoming a nurse. As an adult, she took out a $200 microfinance loan to start her own weaving business and was able to send herself back to school with the profits. A $200 loan provided this opportunity for her to empower herself and bring herself closer to her dream.”
On what they hope viewers will take away from their documentary:
“What we hope people walk away with is to believe that small efforts can really make a big impact on the life of someone living in extreme poverty, and to believe that we can all make a difference.”
Living on One Dollar will be available exclusively in the U.S. through Hulu and Hulu Plus from April 22-May 3 to coincide with “Live Below the Line”, an anti-poverty awareness campaign encouraging people around the world to try living for five days on $1.50 per day for food and water.
Visitors to Chris and Zach’s nonprofit site livingonone.org can get involved by learning about or donating directly to microfinance organizations that provide loans in impoverished areas. Schools, churches, and other community groups worldwide can also book a personalized Living on One Dollar screening with the filmmakers to discuss what we can all do to make a difference.