This story is republished from MEL Magazine. MEL aims to challenge, inspire and encourage readers to drop any preconceived notions of who they’re supposed to be.
Until recently, Jaffet and Antonio, two of the founders of Fortaleza Tours in Panama City, may have been the gang members who robbed you if you were brazen enough to step foot on their turf – the city’s historic Casco Viejo district, which for about a quarter century was considered a “red zone” for tourists. But now, in search of a better life for themselves, their families and their neighborhood, they’ve made a business out of providing tourists with a guided tour of where all the drug trafficking and murder used to take place in this area (both have dropped precipitously over the last few years). It is, of course, an odd feeling to spend a few hours hearing tales of brutal gangland violence in front of the very people whose lives were terrorized by it (and from the mouths of a couple of guys who participated in it). But Jaffet and Antonio swear it’s for a good cause and in the pursuit of positive change. MEL Films recently tagged along for one of their tours to get a better sense of how profiting off a neighborhood’s tortured recent past is the best way to a brighter future.
For thousands of years, herders have grazed their livestock on the vast Southern Mongolia grasslands. As Chinese investment turns this mineral-rich region into a cash cow, does the ancient culture have any hope of survival? A few families are willing to fight for it.
After their release from prison, these men and women were eager to find employment and get their lives back on track. But on job application after job application, one simple yet sweeping question stood in their way.
In this choose-your-own-adventure documentary film series, help hair stylist Sina Washington transform her North Philly salon into a runway as she and her friends prepare for their dream competition, Hair Idol.