Fly fishing film enthusiasts have been treated to a generous offering of films from Off the Grid Studios over the last couple of years. And the crew behind their work have been delighting us for longer with the individual efforts of filmmaker, RA Beattie, photographer, Bryan Gregson, and the writing of Sarah Grigg, among others. The Venturing Angler has given praise to their 2016 film, Chanos Chanos, and now I am pleased to give praise to their new film, Corazón.
One of the most difficult lessons to learn and especially accept is that life is what you make of it. Curve balls can easily disrupt this wisdom for a person. In Corazón, we encounter two men, angler Mike Dawes, and guide Alejandro “Sandflea” Vega Cruz, who have encountered their share of hardships, and they overcome in profound and beautiful ways.
For Dawes, rock bottom came pretty early in life, and it was fishing that saved him and his relationship with his father, bringing them together. And when his father had liver failure, their love grew through Mike’s liver donation.
Dawes eventually made his way to Holbox, Mexico, where Sandflea — a local guide, took him into his home. Sandflea, an enthusiastic angler and generally loving person, had a history of his own challenges with health, and before long, the two anglers became not only friends but also brothers. And when Sandflea needed heart surgery years later, Dawes helped take up the cause of helping save Sandflea with financial support that allowed for the surgery in the United States.
Usually a film gets one viewing before I review it. However, in the case of Corazón, I probably watched the film six or seven times. There are two reasons for this. First, I loved it and wanted to keep watching it. Second, the film is so rich with story that you can almost watch it from a different perspective with each viewing — a challenge for reviewing, but great for enjoying.
Just as life is what you make of it, Corazón is in many ways the same. It can simply be a great fishing video to give you a little at-home stoke. Or it can be a story about family and the trials and bonds of familial relationships. Corazón can certainly be about brotherhood and friendship. And the film can be about how the passion of fly fishing can connect people from generation to generation. The film can even be about culture. And as Sandflea caught his last bonefish in the region in 1998, the film addresses ecological issues and sustainability as well.
One aspect that cannot be overlooked no matter how you view the film is the aspect of soul fishing. What makes Sandflea remarkable is his heart (the organ that ultimately threatens his life). Viewers encounter his heart in his love for his family, which includes Mike, but also in his passion for fly fishing. Often guides who are on the water day in and day out get used to their scene and either become less enthusiastic or see their work as a grind. Not Sandflea. For him, the same flats every day bring the same excitement, and viewers can see his hands shaking for baby tarpon and his joyous energy for a small permit. This level of enthusiasm for every fish after decades on the water reveals an absolute love for fly fishing. And surely this trumps grip and grins, hero shots, and look at me videos.
Beyond the story, anglers love to be entertained and see great footage, and Corazón offers no shortage there. From aerial views of the flats to stunning shots of birds in flight to slow-motion tarpon takes, Corazón is the whole package and brings a sweet soundtrack to put icing on the cake.
To check out more about Corazón and see other projects from Off the Grid Studios, please click here.
– Tim Harden