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El Salvador — Seen and Told Through a Camera Lens 

✎ Written by AZA 21M: sharp mind with a creative soul, living a nomadic lifestyle for many years now, member of the BFF team.

With a landmass almost half the size of Switzerland and over 80 times smaller than the expansive state of Alaska, this intriguing country has only recently gained recognition among its Central American counterparts.

Because of its grim and dark past that included misguided monetary policies, and everything from gang violence to astronomical homicide rates, El Salvador was like a sinking ship, which even many locals left in search of greener pastures all around the world. However ever since Bitcoin was made legal tender in September 2021, a bold move which actually many so-called “experts” condemned, the country is experiencing a rebirth and slowly but steadily flourishing anew.

This is just exercising our sovereign right to adopt legal tenders. Like we adopted the US dollar in the year 2001. What’s the difference? The only difference probably is the reason why we’re doing this. In 2001, it was probably done for the benefit of the banks. And this decision is done for the benefit of the people.

(by Nayib Armando Bukele, President of the Republic of El Salvador)

And hodl on tight, because El Salvador is about to skyrocket to new levels of “fame” soon again! By the end of Q1 2024, we’re going to witness the launch of much-anticipated financial project called “Volcano Bond” — another feat that solidifies country’s commitment to Bitcoin, which, by the way, despite many complex regulations and policies, will finally be achieved in less than 3 years. A big opportunity that will probably boost Salvador’s economy a tremendous force, even just by making it attractive for many external investors and enterprises, as well as by founding a strong layer for locals and many interesting start-ups to come.

BUT! Let’s set this topic aside for now and reflect on the story much beyond even the milestone of September 7, 2021… Let’s learn more about one small town at the sandy beach…

El Zonte, a place known and loved by surfers, tourists and Bitcoiners. Tangible proof of how the use of sound money can make a difference in a given country, even before it has been officially approved there. Or as some say, the very inspiration for the official legal tender plans from 2021.

Let’s catch a cinematic swell. Shall we?

Bitcoin Beach… Lights, Camera, Action!

The story of a tiny but courageous community brought to the silver screen.

The transformation taking place in El Salvador served as an inspiration for Graham Rittener, a full-time Bitcoiner and Documentary Producer.

Motivated by the impactful changes unfolding in the country but also the very heart of it – El Zonte Beach, he just recently finished his feature project, the documentary called “Dare to Dream”.

When asked about what exactly drove him to make this film, he simply said, “I visited El Zonte in July 2021, just after President Bukele’s announcement that El Salvador would be making bitcoin legal tender. I didn’t go there with the sole intention of making a documentary, but as I learned more, I became convinced that this was a story that needed to be shared with the world through film“.

Of course, in his work, Graham doesn’t cover the entire bumpy history of El Salvador (which would make another great film on its own), neither does he capture the full story of what’s been happening in the country since 2021. Instead he perfectly exposes the thought-provoking tale of how it all came to be. A genesis story of El Zonte, Bitcoin Beach.

“Dare to Dream — A Story from El Salvador”.

One of The Top Bitcoin-themed Films from 2023 to Watch this year, if you haven’t done it yet!

It is one of the latest full-length documentaries from the world of Bitcoin Cinema and probably the only one from the previous year that talks about El Salvador. It came out in late autumn, somewhere between October and November 2023. It is difficult to give the exact date because the film was initially available only in the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean through the main distributor of the project, Freestyle Digital Media. A bit later it expanded as well to other countries, including sources like Vimeo and larger streaming platforms such as Amazon and Apple TV. You can find the entire list of available options directly on the project’s website, where you can rent or buy the entire film for a very small amount. By the way, it’s not only worth doing it to watch the entire thing, but also to help out a great cause.

“We’re donating 90% of our profits to the Bitcoin Beach group, who are doing some amazing stuff in their communities in El Salvador. They provide free education and support programs for kids through the Hope House initiative, and they’re also working hard to spread the use of bitcoin.”

Impressive, isn’t it?

But wait! Before you take this super important step, let me tell you a little more about this film. Hopefully it will help you delve deeper into its beautiful story and experience it as much as it really deserves.

So, what is it all about, and why to give it a try?

“Dare to Dream” offers 96 minutes of well-set content that combines beautiful views, carefully selected scenes, and almost flawless technical execution. It nicely weaves together various personal stories while showcasing the clarity and logic that emerges from the abundance of information. Through clever editing and intercutting, the film presents one cohesive picture while depicting independent narratives.

Altogether, not only does it have the power to captivate the audience but also to offer diverse perspectives and a thought-provoking exploration of the subject matter.

Its use of multistrand storytelling adds depth and richness to the overall experience, making it stand out among a few Bitcoin-themed films that cover the topic of Salvador.

This point is especially important because “Dare to Dream” is actually the first film project by Graham Rittener, and in my opinion the end result is really impressive.  Which, on the other hand, doesn’t surprise me that much. During the conversation between Graham and Bitcoin FilmFest, he fondly recalled his natural curiosity and passion for films, and said “I’ve always been a fanatic of great documentaries. I’ve been thinking for years that one day I might try to make one myself”.

In my personal opinion, this project was a great success, and I really can’t wait too see Graham’s next productions. Yes, deep in my heart, I believe that “Dare to Dream” is not where he will stop…

True Emotions and Personal Stories on Reels!

Coming back to the main ‘character’ of this article, a story from El Salvador – “Dare to Dream”.

What particularly sets this film from others is an interesting set of emotions it was able to capture. In fact, “Dare to Dream” tells a story that goes well beyond Bitcoin. A story of dreams, courage, and collective work that liberated the town around El Zonte (commonly known as Bitcoin Beach) from its past poverty and despair.

It is the film that in an engaging yet not overly dramatic way, shows how people who for various reasons, have agreed to understand and use Bitcoin to move forward, achieved so much for their own community. And going even further, as you can hear in the film itself, those who possibly had some impact on the history of the entire country as well.

As Graham himself describes his film “it wasn’t just about the people being impacted by bitcoin but also about the people striving to make it happen”.

And in fact, what happened there, and will most probably still going to happen, is truly amazing!

It’s not just about education related to Bitcoin itself, although there is a lot of it — from technical knowledge to navigating Lightning wallets and bridging the gap for an unbanked, non-technical users. It is also about many other important and previously missing aspects in this small yet ambitious community. From English lessons to various initiatives developing personal skills — tangible actions that have restored faith in dreams for many children and given many people a chance to build their own better future. As you can later see in the film, El Zonte and their Hope House are a place for surfing, soccer, art, and even drama classes, as well as basic entrepreneurship and investment skills.

Yes, all this, wrapped in personal stories and many quality shots, is what makes “Dare to Dream” so unique.

And to quote the words of the creator of this film just again, “The future is very bright there”!

With this message in mind, I encourage you to watch “Dare to Dream” and soak into its beautiful story. In fact, the story of courage and actions, not only just dreams…


Şelale Malkoçoğlu (X: @AZA_21M)

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