My Beautiful Nicaragua

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Holly Carter

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Albert Maysles, SALESMEN


What motivated you to make this film?

We wanted to humanize and visualize the climate crisis through the eyes of a kid.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

With her mentor, Joyce Chopra, they used the CANON XA25 HD CAMCORDER (MP4/H264)


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story. 

We looked to include as many chapters in this story to illuminate the effects of climate change on Edelsin and her community.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

During the process, she asked her family and members of the coop to speak about the drastic changes that this disease has brought in such a short time. Edelsin and her classmates are learning, first hand, about climate change and realizing they, too, will need to join other young people across the globe to forge a sustainable future. “It will take millions of kids like us to stop the disaster” she says, “but we are getting ready.”


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

With the use of a video camera, Edelsin hopes to make vivid the serious consequences of a severely damaged coffee harvest to her own future and that of her country. Since January 2016, Edelsin began to document her family’s traditional, labor intensive method of gathering coffee “cherries” and the many subsequent steps of milling, sorting and washing the beans before they were taken to be sold, by horse-back, to a coffee co-op, miles away.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Tell your story with honesty and heart.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Working with Joyce.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

Learning to listen.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

The farming of coffee in Nicaragua has supported the Mendez family and thousands like them for generations, with coffee accounting for 30 percent of the country’s exports. As a result of climate change, increasing temperatures and erratic rainfall now facilitate the growth of “La Roya” fungus that kills the coffee crop. In the last three years alone, the Mendez family harvest has been reduced over 50 percent by this fungus, forcing them into poverty.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

BYkids is thrilled that this film has been used to start conversations around the world and has been seen by 84 million viewers on public television and used with the School Guide in half the middle and high schools in America. We want more people to see it around the world.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

Climate injustice around the world.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

In this film, climate change is personal for Edelsin. It’s not a political hot potato, or a far off policy debate – it’s not even a subject she learns about in school – it is something tangible and immediate, a problem that affects her daily life. Consider an issue that is, for you, tangible and immediate, that affects your daily life. What do you do to try to solve this problem, or avoid making it worse? What is your relationship to this problem?
How could you present global warming in a way that American students would take it personally and make it their own?


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

The weather is continuing to be inconsistent in Nicaragua.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Host a community or private screening of My Beautiful Nicaragua to raise awareness of the challenges facing Nicaraguan coffee farmers and how storytelling through film can deepen our understanding of global issues. Email [email protected] for more information.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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