Nearly 50,000 Netflix users are demanding the removal of After Maria, a new documentary about how Puerto Rico survived Hurricane Maria in 2017. To the petitioners, the Netflix Original Movie misrepresented the tragedy and Puerto Rico as a whole, and it was ultimately deemed offensive. So far, Netflix has not responded to the call.
At the time of this writing, over 48,700 people have signed the petition to remove After Maria from Netflix. The numbers are still rising, as the Change.org page circulates social media. The petition was started by a user named Maria Echevarria, who explained why it struck a sour chord.
"This documentary disrespects the honor, values and working spirit of our commonwealth by ridiculizing us as poor, inconsiderate and maintained by (FEMA)," she wrote. "People from Puerto Rico did not like the documentary and are criticizing it in all social media, news, and papers."
It is true that the response to After Maria has been generally lackluster so far. On IMDb, the doc holds a 4.0 out of 10-star rating, averaging 271 ratings in total. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a dismal 7 percent score, based on 15 audience ratings.
There are not enough established critical reviews to give After Maria a Tomatometer score yet, but there are a few out there already. Eddie Strait of The Daily Dot called it "a searing portrait of displacement and personal resilience," while Candice Frederick of The Wrap wrote that it "is an effective personal film that humanizes a persistent national tragedy."
In a review published by Decider, John Serba noted that After Maria seems to work hard to avoid the political context of the tragedy. The Trump administration was heavily criticized for denying sufficient aid to Puerto Rico, especially in the aftermath of the storm.
"The film is stronger for avoiding what we likely already know and detailing the daily struggles of these people," he argues.
Still, to some — including Echevarria — the effect of that omission is clearly a negative one, as it leaves the victims of the storm looking helpless. This may be a case where the politics were more central to the story than the filmmakers wanted to admit.0comments
After Maria became available on Netflix on May 24. The movie is just under 40 minutes long, and it ends on a bit of a "cliffhanger," as Serba put it. In many ways, Puerto Rico is still trying to recover from the Category 5 storm to this day, so it may be too soon for such a documentary to work.
After Maria is currently still streaming on Netflix.